Numerous studies have explored the influence of forest management on avian communities empirically, but uncertainty about causal relationships between landscape patterns and temporal dynamics of bird communities calls into question how observed historical patterns can be projected into the future, particularly to assess consequences of differing management alternatives. We used the Habplan harvest scheduler to project forest conditions under several management scenarios mapped at 5-year time steps over a 40-year time span. We used empirical models of overall avian richness, richness of selected guilds, and probability of presence for selected species to predict avian community characteristics for each of the mapped landscapes generated for each 5-year time step for each management scenario. We then used time series analyses to quantify relationships between changes in avian community characteristics and management-induced changes to forest landscapes over time. Our models of avian community and species characteristics indicated habitat associations at multiple spatial scales, although landscape-level measures of habitat were generally more important than stand-level measures. Our projections showed overall avian richness, richness of Neotropical migrants, and the presence of Blue-gray Gnatcatchers and Eastern Wood-pewees varied little among management scenarios, corresponding closely to broad, overall landscape changes over time. By contrast, richness of canopy nesters, richness of cavity nesters, richness of scrub-successional associates, and the presence of Common Yellowthroats showed high temporal variability among management scenarios, likely corresponding to short-term, fine-scale changes in the landscape. Predicted temporal variability of both interior-forest and early successional birds was low in the unharvested landscape relative to that in the harvested landscape. Our results also suggested that early successional species can be sensitive to both availability and connectivity of habitat on the landscape. To increase or maintain the avian diversity, our projections indicate that forest managers need to consider landscape-scale configuration of stands, maintaining a spatially heterogeneous distribution of age classes. Our findings suggest which measures of richness or species presence may be appropriate indicators for monitoring effects of forest management on avian communities, depending on management objectives.
Additional publication details
Projected long-term response of Southeastern birds to forest management