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Habitat associations of breeding conifer-associated birds in managed and regenerating forested stands

February 28, 2022

Forests are often affected by management that could influence demographics of breeding and post-breeding birds that reside within. Numerous studies have focused on immediate effects from management on wildlife soon after forestry treatment (e.g., 0–5 years), however, fewer studies have examined changes in focal species abundance over longer durations as a forest regenerates after disturbance. We examined how forest management influenced 18 conifer-associated birds during breeding and post-breeding over the forest regeneration period in a landscape dominated by forestry. To achieve this, we paired avian detection data from point count surveys in lowland conifer and mixed-wood forests with Bayesian distance-removal models and an information-theoretic framework. We estimated abundance and associations with seven common forestry treatment categories applied at the stand scale, years-since-harvest (YSH; 5–120+), and seven vegetation variables measured within stands. Forestry treatment categories and YSH were poor predictors of abundance, and none of the 14 species with good-fitting models had associations with these covariates. Twelve of 13 species with good-fitting models had important associations between abundance and vegetation variables. All vegetation variables were associated with abundance of some species, irrespective of the forestry treatment in which the site occurred, including spruce-fir tree composition (seven species), tree basal area (six species), midstory cover (five species), live crown ratio (three species), shrub cover (three species), tree diameter at breast height (two species), and shrub composition (one species). In a companion study, several species assemblages were associated with vegetation variables (i.e., spruce-fir tree composition, tree basal area, and tree diameter at breast height) that varied with YSH and forestry treatments, suggesting that some forestry treatments may indirectly influence avian abundance when certain vegetation outcomes are achieved. Our results suggest that managers should target species-specific vegetation outcomes rather than more broadly categorized forestry treatment types when managing for individual focal species because of large variations in vegetative outcomes across stands within a forest treatment category. Our study informs management and conservation of biodiversity in regions such as the Atlantic Northern Forest where commercial forestry is the dominant human land use.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2021
Title Habitat associations of breeding conifer-associated birds in managed and regenerating forested stands
DOI 10.1016/j.foreco.2021.119708
Authors Brian W. Rolek, Daniel J. Harrison, Daniel W. Linden, Cyndy Loftin, Petra B. Wood
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Forest Ecology and Management
Series Number
Index ID 70229054
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Coop Res Unit Leetown

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