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Avian community responses to vegetation structure within chained and hand-cut pinyon-juniper woodlands on the Colorado Plateau

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Abstract

We investigated relationships between breeding birds and vegetation characteristics in fuels-reduction treatment areas within pinyon-juniper woodlands at locations over the Colorado Plateau. The goal of this study was to document differences in avian community responses to two types of pinyon-juniper fuels-reduction treatments (chained vs. hand-cut), relative to control sites. We selected 73 vegetation plots in southern Utah and northern Arizona, of which 33 had been previously thinned by handcutting or chaining, and 40 control plots in untreated pinyon-juniper woodlands. At the 73 locations we documented vegetation structure and counted birds within 3.1 ha circular plots during the 2005 and 2006 breeding seasons. We focused in particular on the effects of fuels-reduction treatments to 16 bird species that are considered pinyon-juniper obligates. We found that density of pinyon pines was the most important variable in predicting bird species richness in all treatments and at control sites. Abundance of Brewer’s Sparrow (<i>Spizella breweri</i>) was negatively related to chained, but positively related to hand cut areas. Vesper Sparrow (<i>Poocetes graminius</i>) abundance was negatively related to both chaining and handcutting. Within 16 pinyon-juniper obligate bird species, abundance of five was positively related to pinyon-pine density, while two were positively related to juniper density. These responses, along with other bird-vegetation relationships influenced by treatment type, need to be considered by land managers when planning fuels reduction treatments in pinyon-juniper woodland habitat in the Colorado Plateau.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Book chapter
Publication Subtype Book Chapter
Title Avian community responses to vegetation structure within chained and hand-cut pinyon-juniper woodlands on the Colorado Plateau
Year Published 2012
Language English
Publisher University of Arizona Press
Contributing office(s) Southwest Biological Science Center
Description 29 p.
Larger Work Type Book
Larger Work Title The Colorado Plateau V: Research, environmental planning, and management for collaborative conservation
First page 113
Last page 132
Country United States
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N