Alternate Title

Avian Diversity and Habitat Use within the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary


Fauna and flora of the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary are well documented in the literature, with few exceptions. To date, the avifauna of this marine protected area remains unreported. This paper documents the avifauna recorded opportunistically in the Sanctuary and accounts for the patterns of diversity that were observed. Land birds comprise 84% of the 50 species identified and recorded. All land birds documented in the catalogue are neotropical migrants. Transient Gulf Coast species comprise 30% of the land birds identified within the Sanctuary. Seabirds account for 16% of the species in the catalogue. The most commonly documented bird within the Sanctuary is the masked booby (Sula dactylatra). Two endangered species were recorded at the Flower Garden Banks. The ecological diversity of reported avifauna may be explained based on three ecological processes: seasonal migration, accidental displacement, and seasonal ranging or dispersal. Habitat use of offshore platforms is described for neotropical migrants, coastal residents, and seabirds. Future studies regarding the avifauna occurring in the northwestern Gulf of Mexico are summarily recommended.