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Silvicultural treatments prescribed to encourage development of desired stand structure (i.e., wildlife-forestry) should result in increased abundance of many bird species of management concern, especially species using dense understory habitat. Desired forest conditions within bottomland vary among sites, but average 60-70% overstory canopy that is heterogeneously distributed with >5 dominant trees/ha retained, and a basal area of 14-16 m2/ha. Desired mid-story and understory cover are between 25-40%. Cavity trees (small and large) as well as dead and/or stressed trees should be retained, ultimately providing >14 m3/ha coarse woody debris, and shade-intolerant tree regeneration should be present on 30-40% of the area. We assessed avian response to prescribed wildlife-forestry silviculture treatments via distance-adjusted point counts and constant effort mist-netting within forest stands on Tensas River National Wildlife Refuge in northeastern Louisiana. More species and individuals were detected within stands 1-13 years post-treatment than within untreated stands. Most species, especially species benefiting from disturbance, increased in density after treatment. A few species decreased in density, yet remained fairly relatively abundant post-treatment. Captures from netting suggested three generalized responses to wildlife-forestry silviculture: (1) species with rapid, short-duration positive response, (2) species with slower but more prolonged positive response, and (3) species which initially declined but had long-term positive population response. We recommend increased use of prescribed wildlife-forestry silvicultural prescriptions to enhance bottomland forest habitat for priority bird species.
Additional Publication Details
Bird response to silviculture induced change in forest structure within bottomland hardwood forests