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RMRS-GTR-32: Habitat relationships of landbirds in the Northern Region, USDA Forest Service


Hutto, Richard L.; Young, Jock S. 1999. Habitat relationships of landbirds in the Northern Region, USDA Forest Service. Gen. Tech. Rep. RMRS-GTR-32. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. 72 p.

A series of first-generation habitat-relationships models for 83 bird species were detected in a 3-year study on point counts conducted in association with the USDA Forest Service's Northern Region Landbird Monitoring Program. The models depict probabilities of detection for each of the bird species on 100-m-radius, 10-minute point counts conducted across a series of major vegetation cover types. Based on these models, some bird species appear to be restricted in their habitat distribution to: (1) postfire, standing-dead forests, (2) relatively uncut, older forests, (3) harvested forest types, (4) marshes, (5) riparian environments, and (6) grasslands and sagebrush. Such restricted distributions highlight the need to provide adequate amounts of these cover types to maintain viable species populations. Many bird species were relatively abundant in harvested forests, suggesting a need for nesting success studies because timber harvesting creates unnatural cover types that may elicit settling responses by species that are "programmed" to respond to similar naturally occurring cover types. Thus, these unnatural cover types could be acting as "ecological traps," where species are being attracted to sites where suitability is relatively poor. These preliminary results demonstrate the utility of a landbird monitoring program, and suggest that agencies such as the Forest Service should consider broadening the indicator species concept to monitor groups of species (such as landbirds and butterflies) that can be easily sampled with a single field method. The list of species covered by this program is indeed large enough and ecologically broad enough to help managers predict and monitor the effects of management activities on almost all the major vegetation types in the region. The detail and region-specific nature of this information can be matched by no other database in existence on landbirds, and the information should prove useful to land managers in planning areas that might consist of alternative cover types.

Keywords: bird-habitat associations, ecological trap, fire effects, indicator species, logging effects, monitoring, Northern Rocky Mountains, point count, riparian


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Title: RMRS-GTR-32: Habitat relationships of landbirds in the Northern Region, USDA Forest Service
Electronic Publish Date: February 25, 2011
Expires: Indefinite
Last Update:
February 25, 2011

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