Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: Texas
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Texas Project

OA 92: Pilot study - Guana Island Avian Response to Hurricanes

August 2019 - September 2021


Participating Agencies

  • Falconwood Foundation

The Caribbean region is considered a biodiversity hotspot and a priority for ecological conservation efforts. The Caribbean is also recognized as a region that will likely undergo substantive environmental changes over the next century. Climate models are generally consistent in predicting increased summer droughts in the region and increased intensity of hurricanes.

Understanding how environmental conditions influence survival of Caribbean wildlife is an important information need given the predicted changing climate in the region. Unfortunately, there is a lack of adequate monitoring of bird populations in the Caribbean that allow informed conservation efforts. In a workshop review of how hurricanes influence Caribbean birds, a strong consensus was that monitoring programs should be established to provide baseline information prior to hurricane arrivals. Additionally, it is not known how the endangered stout iguana will respond to these environmental changes. We had conducted different studies on the bird life and iguanas of Guana Island from 2003 – 2015 and developed a rigorous and standardized survey method for estimating stout iguanas in 2009.

In 2017, Guana Island suffered a direct strike from Hurricane Irma and a subsequent hit from Hurricane Maria. In October 2019 we returned to Guana to conduct assessments of the avian and iguana populations. Our objectives were to do a quick pilot study to assess current status of the avian community and compare it to previous study years with an emphasis on Bananaquits, Bridled Quail Doves, and Pearly-eyed Thrashers, and to conduct focused surveys and population assessment for the current status of the Stout Iguana population and compare it to previous estimates. Depending on results, this may develop into a more formalized long-term study.

Presentations Presentation Date
Boal, C.W., and B.D. Bibles. Weather Influenced Survival and Recruitment of Bananaquits: a glimpse at the potential influence of climate change on Caribbean avifauna. 2019 Meeting of The Wildlife Society, Reno, NV. October 2019
Boal, C.W., and B.D. Bibles. Long-term Banding Provides Insights to Weather Influenced Survival and Recruitment of Bananaquits. North American Ornithological Conference VII, San Juan, Puerto Rico, 10-15 August 2020 August 2020