Apr 16, 2020

Habitat selection by the Ringed Kingfisher (Megaceryle torquata stictipennis) in Basse-Terre, Guadeloupe: Possible negative association with chlordecone pollution

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
P. VillardChristophe Bonenfant


In the Lesser Antilles the Ringed Kingfisher Megaceryle torquata stictipennis is found on Martinique, Dominica and Guadeloupe. On Martinique and Guadaloupe, farmers growing bananas have made massive use of chlordecone from 1973 until 1993. Chlordecone is remnant organochlorine insecticide which bioaccumulates in organisms easily. We carried out a survey of the Ringed Kingfisher in 2009 on Basse-Terre, Guadeloupe, traveling 270 km on 44 rivers to assess the effects of chlordecone on its distribution and habitat selection. We identified 12 territories and estimated the total population to be 54-64 individuals. A habitat selection analysis revealed that the Ringed Kingfishers were located mainly in sections of rivers flowing through the ombrophilous forest, but absent on the ocean shoreline or in the lower parts of rivers. The Ringed Kingfisher's distribution on Guadeloupe could be negatively associated with areas heavily polluted by the chlordecone (under trademark Kepone). We propose that the widespread use of chlordecone in banana plantations on Guadeloupe between 1973 and 1993 has adverse ecological consequences and may be responsible for the absence of Ringed Kingfishers in lowland habitat on the island.

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