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Response of bird species densities to habitat structure and fire history along a Midwestern open-forest gradient

Condor

By:
,
DOI: 10.1650/0010-5422(2007)109[734:ROBSDT]2.0.CO;2

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Abstract

Oak savannas were historically common but are currently rare in the Midwestern United States. We assessed possible associations of bird species with savannas and other threatened habitats in the region by relating fire frequency and vegetation characteristics to seasonal densities of 72 bird species distributed across an open-forest gradient in northwestern Indiana. About one-third of the species did not exhibit statistically significant relationships with any combination of seven vegetation characteristics that included vegetation cover in five vertical strata, dead tree density, and tree height. For 40% of the remaining species, models best predicting species density incorporated tree density. Therefore, management based solely on manipulating tree density may not be an adequate strategy for managing bird populations along this open-forest gradient. Few species exhibited sharp peaks in predicted density under habitat conditions expected in restored savannas, suggesting that few savanna specialists occur among Midwestern bird species. When fire frequency, measured over fifteen years, was added to vegetation characteristics as a predictor of species density, it was incorporated into models for about one-quarter of species, suggesting that fire may modify habitat characteristics in ways that are important for birds but not captured by the structural habitat variables measured. Among those species, similar numbers had peaks in predicted density at low, intermediate, or high fire frequency. For species suggested by previous studies to have a preference for oak savannas along the open-forest gradient, estimated density was maximized at an average fire return interval of about one fire every three years. ?? The Cooper Ornithological Society 2007.

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Article
Publication Subtype:
Journal Article
Title:
Response of bird species densities to habitat structure and fire history along a Midwestern open-forest gradient
Series title:
Condor
DOI:
10.1650/0010-5422(2007)109[734:ROBSDT]2.0.CO;2
Volume
109
Issue:
4
Year Published:
2007
Language:
English
Larger Work Type:
Article
Larger Work Subtype:
Journal Article
First page:
734
Last page:
749
Number of Pages:
16