The importance of forest for the world’s migratory bird species

  • John H. Rappole
Part of the Conservation Biology book series (COBI, volume 6)


One-quarter to one-third of the migrant bird species of the world are forest-dependent during one or more phases of their life cycle (Rappole, 1995) (Table 13.1). This figure alone should be a cause for some apprehension given the rate at which the world’s forests are being altered (World Resources Institute, 1992). However, until quite recently, the connection between forest alteration and migratory bird conservation was not recognized as an issue by many students of migrant ecology because of the apparent flexibility of migrant species in terms of habitat use (Morse, 1971; Karr, 1976). Migrant needs in terms of specific habitat requirements are still a subject of debate (Petit et al., 1993; Rappole and McDonald, 1994) but population declines recorded for 109 species of Nearctic migrants to the Neotropics (DeGraaf and Rappole, 1995) have forced the problem into a different context. In the absence of obvious alternative explanations for most migrant declines, the question of the effects of habitat loss in general and forest loss specifically is no longer strictly academic; for some species, it has become a critical conservation issue (Rappole et al., 1994).


Migratory Bird Forest Habitat Bird Community Forest Loss Winter Ground 
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  • John H. Rappole

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