We tested whether Hooded Warblers (Wilsonia citrina) avoided abrupt forest edges by radiotracking males breeding in small, isolated forest patches (0.5–2.0 ha) in northwest Pennsylvania. Because territory edges were synonymous with abrupt forest edges in all cases, we compared space use patterns with males radiotracked in a nearby continuous forest (150 ha), where we defined edge from territorial boundaries. Based on the proportion of edge to core area, males in both habitats avoided the area within 20 m of the edge, implying that males responded to the presence of territory edge rather than forest edge. Surprisingly, however, males in isolated fragments used the edge area significantly more than males in continuous forest, even when measured against the relative amount of edge area within each territory. Elevated levels of edge use were not related to distance of nests to edges, nest stage, or time of day. We conclude that the presence of physical edges is not the sole determinant of territorial space use in this species and there are likely additional social factors influencing occupancy rates in small, isolated woodlots. Therefore, definitions of forest-interior species based on edge use need to be reconsidered.
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