Habitat use and tree selection of a declining Afro-Palaearctic migrant at sub-Saharan staging and wintering sites

<p><b>Capsule:</b> Wood Warblers <i>Phylloscopus sibilatrix</i> showed significant selection for tree species and woodland characteristics at staging and wintering sites in sub-Saharan Africa.</p> <p><b>Aims:</b> To investigate home range size, habitat and tree species selection of Wood Warblers at a staging site in Burkina Faso (Koubri) and a wintering site in Ghana (Pepease).</p> <p><b>Methods:</b> Comparing habitat recorded at locations of radio-tagged birds and at control points, we investigated whether there was habitat and tree species selection. We also compared home range size of individual birds between the two sites.</p> <p><b>Results:</b> Home range size did not differ between the two sites. There was significant selection for tree species at both Koubri and Pepease: <i>Anogeissus leiocarpus</i> and <i>Albizia zygia</i>, respectively. At Koubri, there was significant avoidance of the most common tree species (<i>Azadirachta indica</i>, <i>Mangifera indica</i> (both non-native), <i>Vitellaria paradoxa</i> and <i>Acacia</i> spp.). In addition, there was a preference for taller trees and greater tree density at both sites. However, the probability of a point being used declined with increasing number of taller (>14 m) trees.</p> <p><b>Conclusion:</b> Fine-scale selection of woodland habitats suggests that Wood Warblers are likely to suffer the consequences of ongoing land-use change in their West African wintering grounds.</p>