The effects of anthropogenic habitat modification are evident on tropical Pacific islands where forests have been extensively converted to plantations of Coconut Palm (Cocos nucifera). We evaluated resource selection in the critically endangered Tuamotu Kingfisher (Todiramphus gambieri gertrudae), which is confined to a single population on the low-elevation island of Niau Atoll in French Polynesia. Our analyses indicate that resources associated with foraging underlie space use and habitat selection of Tuamotu Kingfishers at multiple spatial scales. At the island scale, the occurrence of the species was best predicted by habitat features associated with foraging opportunities, including agricultural coconut forest with open understory, hunting perches, and exposed ground. Conversely, the species' distribution was negatively associated with undisturbed vegetation, including primary feo forest and fallow coconut plantation. At the home-range scale, utilization distributions of radiomarked Tuamotu Kingfishers also indicated that birds selected agricultural coconut forest and least preferred native feo forest. Observations further indicated that foraging birds selected coconut plantations managed with prescribed burning for hunting. The Tuamotu Kingfisher is a rare example of a threatened tropical species that likely benefits from agricultural management, and our findings provide support for conservation strategies based on establishing rescue populations on other islands with coconut plantations. We suggest that incorporating agricultural coconut forests into conservation planning could help prevent the extinction of several kingfisher species that historically relied on the natural broadleaf habitats that are now almost entirely absent from insular Pacific Oceania.
Vol. 128 • No. 2
Vol. 128 • No. 2