Trade-offs relating to grassland and forest mine reclamation approaches in the central Appalachian region and its implications for the songbird community

Avian Conservation and Ecology
By: , and 

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Abstract

Surface mining in the Appalachian region, USA, converts large areas of mature forest to early-successional habitat. This shift in landscape structure has the potential to reduce habitat availability and suitability for forest-dwelling songbirds by reducing and fragmenting mature forest, but also to increase habitat availability for grassland and shrubland-associated songbirds. We examined the influence of mountaintop mining/valley fill (MTMVF) reclamation habitats (grassland, shrubland, and remnant forest) on songbird community composition and abundance at three former MTMVF mines in southwestern West Virginia, relative to intact forest. We quantified the songbird community in 1999 and 2000 using point counts arranged throughout the mine complexes to assess landscape composition of the songbird community. Community analysis showed songbirds had strong associations with their respective guild based on species’ habitat preferences. Although remnant and intact forest treatments had similar species compositions, the forest interior guild had greater richness in intact than remnant forest. Total species richness was greatest in the reclaimed shrubland treatment. Focal species analysis followed similar trends as community assessments, as species’ abundances within treatment types were strongly associated with species’ habitat preferences. Our study indicates reclamation habitat decisions (i.e. grasslands versus forests) can have large effects on avian community composition. Determining appropriate mine restoration actions depends on the suite of species desired for long-term occupancy and their conservation priority.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Trade-offs relating to grassland and forest mine reclamation approaches in the central Appalachian region and its implications for the songbird community
Series title Avian Conservation and Ecology
DOI 10.5751/ACE-01304-140102
Volume 14
Issue 1
Year Published 2019
Language English
Publisher Avian Conservation and Ecology
Contributing office(s) Coop Res Unit Leetown
Description 2 p.
Country United States
Other Geospatial Appalachian Basin