We examined the abundance and species richness of birds breeding in floodplain forests of the Upper Mississippi River in 1992 through 1994, and used a two-way ANOVA with repeated measures to identify effects of a 1993 flood on the bird community. Sixty-five study plots were divided into treatment and control plots based on whether they were flooded in 1993. Among 84 species observed on all plots, 41 species decreased in abundance from 1992 to 1994, 13 increased, 5 were unchanged. Sample sizes were inadequate to evaluate trends for 25 species. Species richness declined over the three-year period. Of 36 species tested with the ANOVA, 20 had a significant main effect of Year. Cool, wet conditions may have contributed to poor reproductive success in 1993, and resulted in widespread decline in floodplain bird abundance during the year following the flood. Bird abundance increased on most unflooded plots in 1993, probably because birds were displaced from flooded plots. This pattern was most striking for neotropical migrants, species preferring habitat edges, lower canopy nesters, and species that forage in the air. We suggest that periodic major flooding may maintain suitable floodplain habitat for Prothonotary Warblers (Protonotaria citrea) in the face of competition from House Wrens (Troglodytes aedon) for nest sites.
Additional publication details
Declines in abundance and species richness of birds following a major flood on the upper Mississippi River