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In 1992, the Vicksburg Field Research Station of the National Wetlands Research Center initiated research on the ecology of migratory birds within forests of the Mississippi Alluvial Valley (MAV). The MAV was historically a nearly contiguous bottomland hardwood forest, however, only remnants remain. These remnants are fragmented and often influenced by drainage projects, silviculture, agriculture, and urban development. Our objectives are to assess species richness and relative abundance, and to relate these to the size, quality, and composition of forest stands. Species richness and relative abundance were estimated for 53 randomly selected forest sites using 1 to 8 point counts per site, depending on the size of the forest fragment. However, statistical comparisons among sites will be restricted to an equal number ofpoint counts within the sites being compared. Point counts, lasting five minutes, were conducted from 11 May to 29 June 1992, foltowing Ralph, Sauer, and Droege (Point Count Standards; memo dated 9 March 1992). Vegetation was measured at the first three points on each site using a modification of the methods employed by Martin and Roper (Condor 90: 5 1-57; 1988). During 252 counts, 7 1 species were encountered, but only 62 species were encountered within a 50-m radius of point center. The mean number of species encountered within 50 m of a point, was 7.3 (s.d. = 2.7) and the mean number of individuals was 11.2 (s.d. = 4.2). The mean number of species detected at any distance was 9.6 (s.d, = 2.8) and the mean number of individuals was 15.6 (s.d. = 7.9). The most frequently encountered warblers in the MAV were Prothonotary Warbler and Northern Parula. Rarely encountered warblers were American Redstart and Worm-eating Warbler. The genera, Quercus, Ulmus, Carya, and Celtis were each encountered at 80 or more of the 152 points at which vegetation was sampled. Species most frequentlyencountered were: sugarberry (Celtis laevagata), water hickory (Caqa aquatica), American elm (Ulmus arnericana), sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua) and willow oak (Quercus phellos) The mean basal area of all trees 10 cm diameter-at-breast height (dbh) was 28 m2 /ha (range 7-70). The mean canopy cover was 87 percent, mean canopy height was 20 m, ground cover was 60 percent, and vegetation density (2-7 m) was 47 percent. The most frequently encountered understory species were sugarberry, ash (Fraxinus spp.), maple (Acer spp.), and elm (Ulnrus spp.). A cooperative GIs effort among the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Nature Conservancy, and the University of Arkansas is currently classifying forested habitats within the MAV. This effort will provide information on stand size and topology which will be used in concert with our current data, and data from visits to additional forest stands in 1993, to assess the relationship between the size, quatity, and composition of forests within the MAV and their breeding bird community.
Additional Publication Details
Species richness and relative abundance of breeding birds in forests of the Mississippi Alluvial Valley
U.S. Forest Service, Southern Forest Experiment Station