Trends in landbird density at two national parks in fragmented, mixed-use landscapes of the Pacific Northwest

Northwestern Naturalist
By: , and 
Edited by: M. HolmgrenR. WilkersonR. SiegelJ. RansomKurt J. Jenkins, and J. Boetsch



National parks play a key role in conserving species by providing landscapes where threats from anthropogenic disturbance are reduced. In a recent study of 3 large wilderness parks in the Pacific Northwest, nearly all landbird species were found to be stable or increasing. Nonetheless, contemporary results from the Breeding Bird Survey and mark-recapture studies fuel concerns that some landbirds in the Pacific Northwest are trending in sync with many North America species in widespread decline. Although landbird populations might be thriving in large parks with extensive old-growth forest, those in smaller parks with less intact wilderness and higher ratios of edge-to-interior habitat might reflect the stressors inherent in more human-dominated landscapes. We conducted landbird point-count surveys from 2005 to 2016 in 2 national historical parks situated in the more human-dominated landscapes of this region, San Juan Island National Historical Park and Lewis and Clark National Historical Park. Established primarily to protect cultural resources, these parks lack old-growth forest and consist of relatively small parcels embedded in fragmented, multi-use landscapes. Here, we apply recent developments in point-count analysis to estimate trends in population density for 50 landbird species commonly detected in these small parks, including lagged effects of precipitation and temperature on the annual density of each species, and effects of survey conditions on species detection. All but 3 species exhibited stable densities in both parks, and more than half of the populations analyzed clearly increased in density over the study period. Notable exceptions were single-park declines in Olive-sided Flycatcher (Contopus cooperi), Northern Flicker (Colaptes anratus), and Hutton's Vireo (Vireo huttoni). Annual variation in population density was often related to climate, with generally positive responses to a recent deficit in annual precipitation-as-snow, and more variable responses to higher mean spring temperature. These results reinforce trends estimated for 3 large national parks in the Pacific Northwest, suggesting recent stability of landbird populations in parks of this region, independent of park size or setting.

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Trends in landbird density at two national parks in fragmented, mixed-use landscapes of the Pacific Northwest
Series title Northwestern Naturalist
DOI 10.1898/NWN18-11
Volume 100
Issue 1
Year Published 2019
Language English
Publisher Society for Northwestern Vertebrate Biology
Contributing office(s) Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center
Description 25 p.
First page 1
Last page 25
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