Avian territory densities were determined from 20 Breeding Bird Censuses in mature (>30 years) bottomland hardwood stand: and 18 Breeding Bird Censuses in young (6-9 years old) cottonwood (Populas deltoides) plantations in the Mississippi Alluvial Valley. Avian species richness, diversity, and territory density were greater (p < 0.01) in bottomland hardwood stands than in intensively-managed cottonwood stands but these parameters were not impacted by selective timber harvest within bottomland hardwood stands nor by method of regeneration within cottonwood plantations (p > 0.05). Even so, detrended correspondence analysis based on avian territory densities readily segregated forest types and silvicultural treatments. Timber harvest within bottomland hardwood stands resulted in a shift in bird communities toward those found in cottonwood stands by increasing the densities of early-successional species such as Indigo Bunting (Passerina cyanea), Yellow-breasted Chat (Icteria virens), and Common Yellowthroat (Geothlypis trichas). Conversely, regenerating cottonwood stands from root sprouts, rather than planting stem cuttings, resulted in a shift in bird communities toward those found in bottomland hardwood stands by increasing densities of species such as White-eyed Vireo (Vireo griseus) and Wood Thrush (Hylocichla mustelina). Tree species diversity, angular canopy cover, and midstory density were positively associated with bird species assemblages in bottomland hardwood stands, whereas vegetation density at ground level was positively associated with bird communities in cottonwood plantations. Conversion of agricultural fields to short-rotation cottonwood plantations results in increased breeding bird populations by adding up to 140 additional territories 40 ha-1. Even so, relative conservation values, derive, from indicator species analysis and Partners in Flight concern scores, suggest that mature bottomland hardwood forests are twice as 'valuable' for bird conservation as are cottonwood plantations.
Additional publication details
Impact of forest type and management strategy on avian densities in the Mississippi Alluvial Valley, USA