Effects of silvicultural activities on birds are of increasing interest because of documented national declines in breeding bird populations for some species and the potential that these declines are in part due to changes in forest habitat. Silviculturally induced disturbances have been advocated as a means to achieve suitable forest conditions for priority wildlife species in bottomland hardwood forests. We evaluated how silvicultural activities on conservation lands in bottomland hardwood forests of Louisiana, USA, influenced species-specific densities of breeding birds. Our data were from independent studies, which used standardized point-count surveys for breeding birds in 124 bottomland hardwood forest stands on 12 management areas. We used Program DISTANCE 5.0, Release 2.0 (Thomas et al. 2006) to estimate density for 43 species with > 50 detections. For 36 of those species we compared density estimates among harvest regimes (individual selection, group selection, extensive harvest, and no harvest). We observed 10 species with similar densities in those harvest regimes compared with densities in stands not harvested. However, we observed 10 species that were negatively impacted by harvest with greater densities in stands not harvested, 9 species with greater densities in individual selection stands, 4 species with greater densities in group selection stands, and 4 species with greater densities in stands receiving an extensive harvest (e.g., > 40% canopy removal). Differences in intensity of harvest influenced densities of breeding birds. Moreover, community-wide avian conservation values of stands subjected to individual and group selection, and stands not harvested, were similar to each other and greater than that of stands subjected to extensive harvest that removed > 40% canopy cover. These results have implications for managers estimating breeding bird populations, in addition to predicting changes in bird communities as a result of prescribed and future forest management practices.
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Effects of wildlife forestry on abundance of breeding birds in bottomland hardwood forests of Louisiana