Public agencies are required to manage for threatened and endangered species and for biodiversity. However, at times, management for threatened and endangered species precludes consideration of other species. We investigated how managing for red-cockaded woodpeckers (Picoides borealis) and biodiversity at the Savannah River Site (SRS), South Carolina, affected communities of bird species that use early-successional scrub habitat (hereafter, scrub-successional species). Management for red-cockaded woodpeckers at the SRS involved both (1) manipulating mature longleaf pine (Pinus palustris)-wiregrass (Andropogon spp.) stands via canopy thinning, removal of midstory trees, and prescribed burning; and (2) even-aged timber harvesting. The former management practice encouraged red-cockaded woodpeckers to establish new colonies in previously unoccupied stands (hereafter, 'recruitment' stands). The latter management practice is used to remove off-site planted pines and replant with preferred longleaf pines. We conducted a constant-effort mist net study in recruitment and regenerating stands (stands clearcut and planted with longleaf pine) during the breeding seasons of 1995-96. We hypothesized that the scrub-successional bird community in recruitment stands would have greater species richness and higher survival and reproductive rates per species than in regenerating stands. However, recruitment stands always had fewer scrub-successional species (1995:36 species; 1996:31 species) than regenerating stands (1995:54 species; 1996:55 species), and all species that occurred in recruitment stands also occurred in regenerating stands. Species which commonly occurred in both recruitment and regenerating stands had similar adult:juvenile ratios (P > 0.15) and relative proportion of adults in breeding condition (P > 0.05). We detected no difference in survival rates of Bachman's sparrows (Aimophila aestivalis), indigo buntings (Passerina cyanea), and of 'combined' scrub-successional birds between stand types (P > 0.05). We found that even-aged forestry is an important management practice for maintaining and increasing avian biodiversity on public lands, as well as an acceptable management practice for red-cockaded woodpeckers.
Additional publication details
Scrub-successional bird community dynamics in young and mature longleaf pine-wiregrass savannahs