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Floristics and Avian Community Structure: Implications for Regional Changes in Eastern Forest Composition

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Because many forest stands are increasingly dominated by maple (Acer spp.) in eastern North America, there will likely be a relative scarcity of mature oak (Quercus spp.) forests within the next several decades. In an effort to understand how avian communities may be affected by a regional change in forest composition from oak to maple dominance, we compared bird communities in both oak- and maple-dominated forest stands in three seasons (winter, spring, and fall). In 1998 and 1999, birds were surveyed and habitat characteristics were measured in six mature forest woodlots in central Pennsylvania. Total abundance of birds was greater within oak- than maple-dominated stands in all seasons, whereas species richness was greater in oak stands only in the spring. Resident species, long-distance migrants, woodpeckers, bark-gleaners, and 11 individual species were more abundant within oak than maple stands in at least one season. Differences in avian community structure between oak and maple stands were greatest in the fall when oaks produced hard mast and in the spring when insectivorous birds gleaned arthropods from tree substrates. This pattern was consistent with our expectations based on mast characteristics and tree physiognomy of maples and oaks as well as the diet and foraging behavior of birds. Our results suggest that a regional change from oak- to maple-dominated forests may strongly affect avian community structure and populations of some common bird species associated with eastern deciduous forests. FOR. SCI. 48(2):267–272.
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Keywords: Oak; environmental management; foraging behavior; forest; forest birds; forest management; forest resources; forestry; forestry research; forestry science; maple; natural resource management; natural resources

Document Type: Miscellaneous

Affiliations: 1: Intercollege Graduate Program in Ecology The Pennsylvania State University, School of Natural Resources, 2021 Coffey Road, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, 43210-1085, Phone: (614) 247-6099; Fax: (614) 292-7432 2: Professor of Forest Ecology and Physiology School of Forest Resources, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA, 16802, Phone: 814-865-4901

Publication date: 2002-05-01

More about this publication?
  • Forest Science is a peer-reviewed journal publishing fundamental and applied research that explores all aspects of natural and social sciences as they apply to the function and management of the forested ecosystems of the world. Topics include silviculture, forest management, biometrics, economics, entomology & pathology, fire & fuels management, forest ecology, genetics & tree improvement, geospatial technologies, harvesting & utilization, landscape ecology, operations research, forest policy, physiology, recreation, social sciences, soils & hydrology, and wildlife management.
    Forest Science is published bimonthly in February, April, June, August, October, and December.

    2016 Impact Factor: 1.782 (Rank 17/64 in forestry)

    Average time from submission to first decision: 62.5 days*
    June 1, 2016 to Feb. 28, 2017

    Also published by SAF:
    Journal of Forestry
    Other SAF Publications
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