Assessing the status, ecology and distribution of the Elfin Woods warbler (Dendroica angelae) to influence its long-term conservation

Veronica Anadon

The Elfin Woods Warbler (Dendroica angelae) (EWW) is endemic to Puerto Rico where it is found in four distinct populations. It is a globally threatened species, listed as an endangered species candidate by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, and as a critical species by the Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources. The EWW is found principally in montane forests, where nearly constant cloud cover, dense vegetation, and its own behaviour combine to make observation of this species difficult. Relatively recently (1971), the EWW was discovered in the Caribbean National Forest, and Maricao, Carite and Toro Negro Forests. Subsequent studies of distribution and habitat use, feeding ecology, and breeding biology at the Maricao Forest completed the published record of the biology of the EWW. However, no systematic population surveys for this species have ever been conducted; it is unknown if the species is present in locations outside of the four reported populations; and its biology outside of Maricao is unrecorded. The proposed project intends to determine the current distribution of the EWW by conducting field surveys and point-count censuses in the four populations and away from known sites. Habitat types occupied by EWW and general behaviour will also be assessed. The results from this project will feed directly into the Important Bird Areas program currently being implemented by the Puerto Rican Ornithological Society. The study will provide much needed information on current distribution, population size, and habitat use island-wide. These baseline data will be fundamental in the formulation of management guidelines and recommendations for the conservation of this species. The ongoing IBA program will designate critical EWW habitat as IBAs and will seek to implement conservation actions to ensure its long-term survival.