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Woodcreepers at Santa Lucía

Today, let's have a look at the monitoring data for the different woodcreeper species that there are in Santa Lucía. Although only two of them are of the same genus they are still closely-enough related and share enough behavior to compare them. At first, let's have a look at their "abundance" in the monitoring. In this case it was calculated as a share of how many of the 2.410 monitoring sessions they have appeared.

It's not surprising that the Montane Woodcreeper (Lepidicolaptes lacryminger) is the most commonly found species. Everybody who has walked up and down the reserve a couple of times will know that this species can be found almost anywhere. In fact, it's somewhat surprising that it's only present in around 6% of all monitoring sessions. The Spotted Woodcreeper (Xiphorhynchus erythropygius) comes in second. It certainly helps that this species is quite vocal, so the second place seems to confirm the suspicion there is a slight bias towards vocal and loud species seeing as the Spotted Woodcreeper is NOT present in all parts of the reserve. The third place is a real surprise: the Tyrannine Woodcreeper (Dendrocyncla tyrannina). This species is somewhat secretive and not easy to find actually. What may have given it the advantage over the next species is that many monitoring sessions where held in summer and that's when this species becomes very vocal whereas for most part of the year it can't be heard. So that might be another bias that we have currently in the data. The Strong-billed Woodcreeper (Xiphocolaptes promeropirhynchus) is a disappointment. From direct observations is seems far more common than Spotted or Tyrannine and also wider distributed, but maybe one might be biased here, because it is so common around the lodge.

Wedge-billed Woodcreeper (Glyphorhynchus spirurus) is somewhat difficult to spot (small!), not that vocal and prefers also lower elevations. So, it's not surprising that it's not that present in Santa Lucia - although it has been registered in elevations up to 1.900m (see next chapter). Now, the Plain-brown Woodcreeper (Dendrocincla fuliginosa) is very common to abundant in the villages and towns around Santa Lucía (Santa Marianita, Nanegal, etc.) and although it also frequently observed in the lower part of the Maquipucuna forest, it seems to prefer disturbed areas and lower elevations hence there are almost no observations within our reserve.

So, how do the species "share" Sana Lucía elevation-wise? Here's the answer?

The data on the less common species (especially Plain-brown) is probably not very sound. Spotted and Wedge-billed clearly prefer lower elevations (mainly below the lodge at 1.950m). Could the difference between those two just be the detection-problem, with Spotted being far more vocal, louder and bigger?

Tyrannine has a peak at around 1.800m - it also seems to be somewhat local. It can be observed frequently on the way down to the Lek and also half-way down between the lodge and the waterfalls. Would be interesting to know how many individuals there are. The guide books actually mark it as a mid- to high-elevation species (1.300m-2.900m). It seems to be worth the while looking into other environmental factors that define its prefered habitat to why it's so local here.

Strong-billed Woodcreepers seems to be somewhat evenly distributed across the reserve, although it seems a little more present in the upper part of the reserve. Considering it's low presence in the monitoring in total, this chart might be misleading and could be clearer with more observations.

Montane Woodcreeper - as the name implies - would be expected to show up more in the higher parts of the reserve. Although the tendency seems to be in the data, the hump-shaped curve is not easily explained. It is quite vocal but it's voice is quieter than that of other Woodcreeper, so maybe it's underrepresented in the monitoring, but how to explain the drop of abundance in the higher part of the reserve? Since it's a forest-loving bird it can't be easily explained with the habitat as the upper part of Santa Lucía is mostly primary forest with some secondary patches in between. Someone interested in solving the puzzle?

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