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Black Curassow habitat relationships in terra firme forests of the Guiana Shield: A multiscale approach

Denis T., Hérault B., Jaouen G., Brunaux O., Guitet S., Richard-Hansen C.. 2016. Condor, 118 (2) : p. 253-273.

DOI: 10.1650/CONDOR-15-28.1

The Black Curassow (Crax alector) is a large game bird with Vulnerable conservation status found in north-central South America. We examined its distributional pattern across French Guiana using a large number of environmental descriptors at 3 scales of analysis: landscape, forest type, and microhabitat. We used a hierarchical model with temporary emigration and imperfect detection for data collected by standard distance sampling methods at 35 study sites. At the landscape scale, Black Curassow density decreased with hunting pressure and increased with steeper slopes in both hunted and unhunted areas. Topography appeared to be a good proxy for Black Curassow ecological requirements and probably reflected habitat quality. At the forest scale, population density was negatively correlated with the abundance of palms and Mimosoideae and positively correlated with the abundance of Lauraceae. Botanical families did not directly influence Black Curassow distribution, but rather determined spatial patterns by being markers of a particular forest type. At the microhabitat scale, Black Curassows used hilltops more frequently than other parts of the local topographical gradient. Our multiscale analysis shows that this species' distribution can be explained by biotic or abiotic conditions, regardless of the scale. For conservation, we recommend maintaining connectivity between Black Curassow populations separated by hunted areas. Our predicted densities could be used to adapt hunting quotas across French Guiana's forests. We show that combining field and remote sensing data helps to understand the ecological processes responsible for Black Curassow habitat relationships.

Mots-clés : oiseau; rapace; espèce en danger; espèce protégée; Écologie animale; distribution géographique; forêt tropicale; composition botanique; lauraceae; habitat; paysage; topographie; guyane française; amérique du sud; france; crax alector

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