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Early seral hardwood vegetation increases adult and fledgling bird abundance in Douglas-fir plantations of the Oregon Coast Range, USA

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Recent evidence suggests that population declines of bird species associated with early-successional forest conditions may be associated with reduced quality of breeding habitat. Increasing intensity of forest management on private lands and decreased harvest rates on federal lands in the Pacific Northwest, USA, have resulted in a loss of diverse young forest stands, typically called early seral forest. Previous studies suggest that the amount of early seral broadleaf cover within conifer forests is linked to the composition of foliage-gleaning bird communities. However, information regarding productivity and juvenile use of post-breeding habitat in highly modified plantation habitat is lacking. We examined the relationship between vegetation structure resulting from intensive forest management practices and the abundance of five species of leaf-gleaning, neotropical migrants: orange-crowned warbler (Oreothlypis celata (Say, 1823)), Wilson’s warbler (Wilsonia pusilla (A. Wilson, 1811)), MacGillivray’s warbler (Oporornis tolmiei (J.K. Townsend, 1839)), Swainson’s thrush (Catharus ustulatus (Nuttall, 1840)), and black-headed grosbeak (Pheucticus melanocephalus (Swainson, 1827)). All species, except MacGillivray’s warbler, showed positive associations with the amount of early seral hardwood cover as fledglings, breeding adults, or both. However, the relative magnitude of these associations varied, suggesting that other factors may also have influenced avian responses. Abundances of breeding pairs and young are likely to show positive responses to management practices that increase early seral hardwood cover in regenerating stands. If adopted at landscape and regional scales, such practices may positively influence population trends of several declining bird species.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of Forest Ecosystems and Society, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331, USA. 2: Timberlands Technology, Weyerhaeuser, Federal Way, WA 98063-9777, USA.

Publication date: May 30, 2012

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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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