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Habitat of birds in ponderosa pine and aspen/birch forest in the Black Hills, South Dakota

Mills, Todd R.; Rumble, Mark A.; Flake, Lester D. 2000. Habitat of birds in ponderosa pine and aspen/birch forest in the Black Hills, South Dakota. Journal of Field Ornithology. 71(2): 187-206.

Birds with both eastern and western distributions occur in the Black Hills of western South Dakota. This forest is mostly ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) and is managed for timber. Logging alters forest characteristics and the bird community. We studied habitat relations of breeding songbirds at the stand- and site-level scales in ponderosa pine and quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides)/paper birch (Betula papyrifera) forest. Sixty bird species were observed ≤50 m from count points. Species richness was greater in aspen/birch than in ponderosa pine. Species richness was generally lower in ponderosa pine with >40% overstory canopy cover (OCC) than in ponderosa pine with ≤40% OCC and than aspen/birch of any structural stage. Seven bird species were associated with the ponderosa pine, while four species were associated with aspen/birch. Bird associations at the stand-level were further refined by OCC and diameter-at-breast-height (DBH) structural stage of each forest type. Habitats for most birds in the Black Hills can be managed using current forest inventory descriptions that include OCC and DBH. However, Red-naped Sapsuckers (Sphyrapicus nuchalis), Red-breasted Nuthatches (Sitta canadensis), White-breasted Nuthatches (S. carolinensis), Ovenbirds (Seiurus aurocapillus), and Western Tanagers (Piranga ludoviciana) were strongly associated with site-level vegetation characteristics. Snag density, snag condition, and deciduous trees beneath the ponderosa pine canopy should be included in forest inventories to better quantify habitats for these birds.

Keywords: birds, habitats, Black Hills, South Dakota, ponderosa pine, Pinus ponderosa, quaking aspen, Populus tremuloides, paper birch, Betula papyrifera, overstory canopy cover (OCC), diameter-at-breast-height (DBH)

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Title: RMRS Other Publications: Habitat of birds in ponderosa pine and aspen/birch forest in the Black Hills, South Dakota
Electronic Publish Date: September 23, 2008
Last Update:
September 23, 2008

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