We determined which vegetal features influenced the distribution and abundance of grassland birds at the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge, Arizona. The density and distribution of mesquite (Prosopis velutina) exerted the strongest influence on the grassland bird community. Abundances of Pyrrhuloxia (Cardinalis sinuatus; r2 = 0.363, P = 0.025) and Lucy's Warbler (Vermivora luciae; r2 = 0.348, P = 0.04), and total abundance of birds (r2 = 0.358, P = 0.04) were positively correlated with increasing density of mesquite (Prosopis velutina), whereas abundance of Cactus Wren (Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus; r2 = 0.452, P = 0.02) was negatively correlated with increasing mesquite density. Abundance of Loggerhead Shrike (Lanius ludovicianus; r2 = 0.693, P < 0.001) was positively correlated with an increasing patchiness of mesquite. Shrub-dependent bird species dominated the community, accounting for 12 of the 18 species and 557 of the 815 individuals detected. Species relying on extensive areas of open grassland were largely absent from the study area, perhaps a result of the recent invasion of mesquite into this semi-desert grassland.
Additional publication details
The effects of mesquite invasion on a southeastern Arizona grassland bird community