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Local- versus landscape-scale effects on the demography of three forest-breeding songbirds in Ontario, Canada

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Reproductive success of songbirds breeding in forest fragments can be influenced by local habitat characteristics and by anthropogenic land uses in the surrounding matrix such as exurban development and agriculture. Effectively managing these songbirds requires an understanding of which spatial scales most strongly influence their demography. We conducted a multiscale study to investigate the relative influence of local vegetation characteristics and landscape composition at two spatial scales (100 and 2000 m) in a predominantly agricultural landscape on songbird demography. Density, pairing success, nest success, and productivity were assessed for Ovenbirds (Seiurus aurocapilla (L., 1766)), Wood Thrush (Hylocichla mustelina (J.F. Gmelin, 1789)), and American Robins (Turdus migratorius L., 1766) in 16 deciduous forest fragments in southeastern Ontario. Demography of Ovenbirds was most strongly associated with local vegetation characteristics, while demography of Wood Thrush and American Robins was most strongly related to landscape composition within a 2000 m buffer. For all three species, cross-scale correlations influenced nest success, although other demographic parameters were less affected. We conclude that relationships between local- and landscape-scale metrics and songbird demography are complex, species-specific, and differ among reproductive parameters, necessitating a multiscale approach to management.

Keywords: American Robins (Turdus migratorius); Ovenbirds (Seiurus aurocapilla); Wood Thrush (Hylocichla mustelina); composition du paysage; corrélation entre échelles; cross-scale correlation; demography; démographie; grive des bois (Hylocichla mustelina); habitat local; landscape composition; local habitat; merle d’Amérique (Turdus migratorius); multi-échelles; multiscale; paruline couronnée (Seiurus aurocapilla)

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Watershed Ecosystems Graduate Program, Trent University, 1600 West Bank Drive, Peterborough, ON K9H 2J9, Canada. 2: Environmental and Life Sciences Graduate Program, Trent University, 1600 West Bank Drive, Peterborough, ON K9H 2J9, Canada. 3: Southern Science and Information Unit, Ministry of Natural Resources, 659 Exeter Road, London, ON N6E 1L3, Canada.

Publication date: 2012-07-19

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  • Published since 1929, this monthly journal reports on primary research contributed by respected international scientists in the broad field of zoology, including behaviour, biochemistry and physiology, developmental biology, ecology, genetics, morphology and ultrastructure, parasitology and pathology, and systematics and evolution. It also invites experts to submit review articles on topics of current interest.
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