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The Effect of Gypsy Moth Defoliation on Cavity-Nesting Bird Communities

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Abstract:

Gypsy moths (Lymantria dispar) kill trees and create snags, a resource vital to cavitynesting birds. With this in mind, population trends of 11 cavity-nesting birds and their relationship to snags in an area that was defoliated by gypsy moths were investigated from 1984 to 1999. Vegetation and bird point-count data from before a major gypsy moth outbreak (1984–1986), during (1987–1988), and after (1989–1999) enabled us to ake inferences about this forest bird community. The combined abundance of the 11 cavity-nesting species examined increased during the years immediately after the outbreak (1989–1993) followed by a decline in the last 6 yr (1994–1999). The abundance of snags also increased from 1989 to 1993 followed by a decline from 1994 to 1999. Regression analysis confirmed that cavity-nesting bird populations were highly associated with snag abundance. These data suggest the importance of snags to cavity-nesting birds and that cavity-nesters were able to take immediate advantage of a new population of snags. FOR. SCI. 48(2):273–281.

Keywords: Snags; defoliation; environmental management; forest; forest management; forest resources; forestry; forestry research; forestry science; natural resource management; natural resources; pesticide; woodpeckers

Document Type: Miscellaneous

Affiliations: 1: Fernbank Science Center, 156 Heaton Park Drive, Atlanta, GA, 30307, Phone: (404) 929-6308; Fax: (404) 370-1336 chris.showalter@fernbank.edu 2: Professor West Virginia University, Division of Forestry, PO Box 6125 Morgantown, WV, 26506-6125, Phone: (304) 293-2941 ext. 2491 rwhitmor@wvu.edu

Publication date: May 1, 2002

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