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Many Bird Species Benefit From Oak Savanna Woodland Restoration

Photo of Oak savanna and woodlands are being restored through the use of prescribed fire and tree thinning and provide habitat for many birds of conservation concern. Jennifer Reidy, University of MissouriOak savanna and woodlands are being restored through the use of prescribed fire and tree thinning and provide habitat for many birds of conservation concern. Jennifer Reidy, University of MissouriSnapshot : Many bird species of conservation concern in the midwestern United States are associated with early successional or open forest conditions that are maintained by disturbance, such as fire or timber harvest. Growing interest in restoring savannas and woodlands in the Midwest for a variety of objectives can benefit many of these bird species.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Thompson, Frank R. 
Research Station : Northern Research Station (NRS)
Year : 2014
Highlight ID : 652

Summary

Savanna and woodland were once common in the Midwest, but land use changes have led to increasing scarcity of these ecological communities. Land management agencies are now interested in restoring savannas and woodlands with prescribed fire and mechanical tree thinning. Savanna and woodland may provide breeding habitat for some declining bird species associated with early-successional forests or grassland-shrub communities, but there is limited knowledge of bird response to savanna restoration. Forest Service scientists surveyed bird abundance in restored or actively managed savanna and woodland and adjacent non-managed forest across the Missouri Ozark region. They determined bird responses to management and changes in bird densities across gradients of tree and understory density and fire frequency. Eastern towhee, field sparrow, indigo bunting, prairie warbler, white-eyed vireo, and yellow-breasted chat had greater densities in managed savanna or woodland than in non-managed forest and sites with lower tree density and canopy cover, recent or frequent fire, and higher shrub density. Five woodland generalist species were also all more abundant in managed savanna and woodland but five mature forest species were not. This knowledge of species specific patterns in bird density across savanna, woodland, and forest can be used to guide landscape-scale management to benefit bird species of conservation of concern.

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

  • Mark Twain National Forest
  • Jennifer L. Reidy and Sarah W. Kendrick, University of Missouri, Columbia
  • Missouri Department of Conservation and Department of Natural Resources
  • The Nature Conservancy

Strategic
Program Areas

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