The central Appalachian landscape is being heavily altered by surface coal mining. The practice of Mountaintop Removal/Valley Fill (MTRVF) mining has transformed large areas of mature forest to non-forest and created much forest edge, affecting habitat quality for mature forest wildlife. The Appalachian Regional Reforestation Initiative is working to restore mined areas to native hardwood forest conditions, and strategies are needed to prioritize restoration efforts for wildlife. We present mineland reforestation guidelines for the imperiled Cerulean Warbler, considered a useful umbrella species, in its breeding range. In 2009, we surveyed forest predicted to have Cerulean Warblers near mined areas in the MTRVF region of West Virginia and Kentucky. We visited 36 transect routes and completed songbird surveys on 151 points along these routes. Cerulean Warblers were present at points with fewer large-scale canopy disturbances and more mature oak-hickory forest. We tested the accuracy of a predictive map for this species and demonstrated that it can be useful to guide reforestation efforts. We then developed a map of hot spot locations that can be used to determine potential habitat suitability. Restoration efforts would have greatest benefit for Cerulean Warblers and other mature forest birds if concentrated near a relative-abundance hot spot, on north- and east-facing ridgetops surrounded by mature deciduous forest, and prioritized to reduce edges and connect isolated forest patches. Our multi-scale approach for prioritizing restoration efforts using an umbrella species may be applied to restore habitat impacted by a variety of landscape disturbances.
Additional publication details
|Publication Subtype||Journal Article|
|Title||Case study: Prioritization strategies for reforestation of minelands to benefit Cerulean Warblers|
|Series title||Journal American Society of Mining and Reclamation|
|Contributing office(s)||Coop Res Unit Leetown|
|Online Only (Y/N)||N|
|Additional Online Files (Y/N)||N|