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Title: Diet preferences of goats in a subtropical dry forest and implications for habitat management
Author: Fleming, Genie M.; Wunderle Jr., Joseph; Ewert, David N.;
Source: Tropical Ecology
Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
Description: As part of an experimental study of using controlled goat grazing to manage winter habitat of the Kirtland’s warbler (Setophaga kirtlandii), an endangered Nearctic neotropical migratory bird, we evaluated diet preferences of domesticated goats within early successional subtropical dry forest in The Bahamas. We expected goats would show a low preference for two plants (Lantana involucrata, Erithalis fruticosa) important to the bird’s winter diet and that occur in abundance in goat-grazed areas throughout the region. Contrary to our expectations, the plants were among a set of species, including Acacia choriophylla, Passiflora spp., and Thrinax morrisii, with moderate to high palatability during the mid-late dry season. Thus, strict avoidance of the two warbler food plants by goats is not a direct mechanism promoting their abundance in grazed areas. Nonetheless, grazing may still prove an economically viable means of managing existing warbler habitat by delaying succession toward a mature forest community where important food resources may be lacking.
Keywords: Bahamas, coppice, Erithalis fruticosa, goat grazing, Kirtland’s warbler, Lantana involucrata, resource selection
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Fleming, Genie M.; Wunderle, Jr., Joseph M.; Ewert, David N. 2016. Diet preferences of goats in a subtropical dry forest and implications for habitat management. Tropical Ecology 57(2): 279-297.
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