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Songbird abundance in clear-cut and burned stands: a comparison of natural disturbance and forest management

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To evaluate the efficacy of forest management to emulate natural disturbance, we compared bird abundances among burned and clear-cut, former black spruce (Picea mariana (Mill.) BSP) sites, after 5, 14, and 27 years of succession. Total bird density was lower in clear-cut sites resulting from fewer hermit thrushes, yellow warblers, Swainson's thrushes, and fox sparrows. Hermit thrushes were positively correlated with snag density while yellow warblers and Swainson's thrushes were positively associated with deciduous tree cover and negatively correlated with conifer cover. Only yellow-rumped warblers had higher densities on clear-cut sites, likely due to greater conifer cover. Bird densities and species richness peaked in the 14-year-old burns and exceeded that of mature forests reported for Labrador. This demonstrates the importance of natural early successional forests for birds. Although logged areas support several species found in natural young burns, logging does not precisely mimic fire. This suggests that forest managers should allow some forests to burn naturally.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2002-08-01

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  • Published since 1971, this monthly journal features articles, reviews, notes and commentaries on all aspects of forest science, including biometrics and mensuration, conservation, disturbance, ecology, economics, entomology, fire, genetics, management, operations, pathology, physiology, policy, remote sensing, social science, soil, silviculture, wildlife and wood science, contributed by internationally respected scientists. It also publishes special issues dedicated to a topic of current interest.
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