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Avian species richness in different-aged stands of riparian forest along the middle Rio Grande, New Mexico

January 1, 1994

Riparian forests are important for maintaining vertebrate species richness in the southwestern United States, but they have become restricted in distribution due to both historical and current management practices. In order to counteract continued loss of this habitat, several mitigation programs were developed in the middle Rio Grande Valley of New Mexico. Three areas ranging from 50 to 140 ha were revegetated with native trees using pole planting and cattle exclosures, and changes in vegetation structure were quantified after 2, 3, and 5 years of growth. As expected, the older site contained the most heterogeneous mix of plant species and the greatest structural diversity. We compared year-round avian use of the revegetated sites with a mature cottonwood forest site of approximately 30 years of age. As the revegetated sites matured and salient habitat features changed, the population dynamics of individual avian species and patterns of guild structure varied. The older revegetated sites showed a greater similarity to the mature cottonwood site, suggesting that reclamation efforts established quality riparian habitats for birds in as little as 5 years. The revegetated sites appeared especially important for Neotropical-migrant birds. We suggest that a mosaic of riparian woodlands containing mixtures of native tree and shrub species of different size classes is necessary to maintain avian species richness in the middle Rio Grande drainage, and probably throughout the southwestern United States.

Publication Year 1994
Title Avian species richness in different-aged stands of riparian forest along the middle Rio Grande, New Mexico
DOI 10.1046/j.1523-1739.1994.08041098.x
Authors G.H. Farley, L. M. Ellis, J.N. Stuart, N.J. Scott
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Conservation Biology
Index ID 1008119
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Western Ecological Research Center