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Numerical Response of Breeding Birds Following Experimental Selection Harvesting in Northern Hardwood Forests

Author(s): Samuel Hache | Thibaut Pétry | Marc-André Villard

Journal: Avian Conservation and Ecology
ISSN 1712-6568

Volume: 8;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 4;
Date: 2013;
Original page

Keywords: BACI design | bird communities | forest management | partial harvesting | spot mapping

Silvicultural treatments have been shown to alter the composition of species assemblages in numerous taxa. However, the intensity and persistence of these effects have rarely been documented. We used a before-after, control-impact (BACI) paired design, i.e., five pairs of 25-ha study plots, 1-control and 1-treated plot, to quantify changes in the density of eight forest bird species in response to selection harvesting over six breeding seasons, one year pre- and five years postharvest. Focal species included mature forest associates, i.e., Northern Parula (Setophaga americana) and Black-throated Green Warbler (Setophaga virens), forest generalists, i.e., Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus varius) and Swainson’s Thrush (Catharus ustulatus), early-seral specialists, i.e., Mourning Warbler (Geothlypis philadelphia) and Chestnut-sided Warbler (Setophaga pensylvanica), species associated with shrubby forest gaps, i.e., Black-throated Blue Warbler (Setophaga caerulescens), and mid-seral species, i.e., American Redstart (Setophaga ruticilla). As predicted, we found a negative numerical response to the treatment in the Black-throated Green Warbler, no treatment effect in the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, and a positive treatment effect in early-seral specialists. We only detected a year effect in the Northern Parula and the American Redstart. There was evidence for a positive treatment effect on the Swainson’s Thrush when the regeneration started to reach the pole stage, i.e., fifth year postharvest. These findings suggest that selection harvesting has the potential to maintain diverse avian assemblages while allowing sustainable management of timber supply, but future studies should determine whether mature-forest associates can sustain second- and third-entry selection harvest treatments.
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