Roger or Margaret Higbee at
March 2017 Meeting
The Honduran Emerald (Amazilia luciae) is the only bird endemic to Honduras. This hummingbird species is included in the IUCNs Red List as endangered, and its population is considered to be in decline. Honduran Emeralds inhabit thorn forest found in arid inter-montane valleys. These inter-montane valleys have seen a change in land use for human development purposes including activities associated with agricultural production, cattle grazing, and road infrastructure projects. Such development is the basis for the Agalta Valleys economy. As such, activities that improve existing or create new opportunities for economic growth will benefit regional communities and Honduras in general. Any development project has economic and social value, but these need to advance carefully when they are in proximity or within fragile ecosystems. A scientific foundation should guide conservation and mitigation actions after development projects (i.e. road constructions).
A consultancy was commissioned to propose strategies for the conservation of the Honduran Emerald's habitat in Agalta Valley after the construction of the Agricultural Corridor Project (ACP). The ACP phase in the department of Olancho traversed a section of Agalta Valley where dry forest patches are found. These remnants are home to this endemic bird as well as other endemic plant species. We studied the Honduran Emerald in the sector of the Agalta Valley within the ACP. Our research shows the areas with the highest probability of occurrence based on a species distribution map, and our observational data highlight the importance of the dry forest ecosystem as it is used throughout the year for diverse ecological processes. Based on this experience, we recognize the dry forest remnants' frailty and emphasize how the on-going habitat stress makes this species and its habitat a conservation priority. These findings are intended to provide our in-country partners with science-based insight regarding patterns of the species' distribution and resource selection in the Agalta Valley.
Fabiola is a biologist from Honduras. She has worked with birds since taking an ornithology course in college at the National Autonomous University of Honduras in 2008. She has had opportunities to learn about birds in various habitats in her country; these habitats include cloud forests, pine-oak forests, and tropical dry forests. Currently as an IUP student in the biology masters program, she continues to learn and is also enjoying her stay in the US.