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Longleaf Pine Restoration: Implications for Landscape-Level Effects on Bird Communities in the Lower Gulf Coastal Plain

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The longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) ecosystem of the southeastern United States is among the most heavily degraded of all ecosystems. Less than 1% of the original longleaf pine forests remain as old-growth stands. Eglin Air Force Base (Eglin) in northwest Florida contains the largest remaining extent of longleaf pine, but much of this habitat has been degraded through fire suppression, selective logging, and planting off-site species of pines. We examined the distribution of bird species among habitats during spring and fall 1994–1995 to assess the influence of large-scale habitat restoration on bird communities across the landscape. During both spring and fall, species richness and relative abundance of neotropical migrants were greatest in oak hammocks and riparian habitats. During spring, the abundance of resident species was greatest in barrier island scrub and flatwoods, but species richness of residents also was high in oak hammocks. During fall, both species richness and abundance of residents were greatest in oak hammocks and flatwoods. Analyses of abundance for individual species (both neotropical migrants and residents) suggested that each habitat examined was important for ≥1 species. An analysis examining the importance of habitats for conservation found that oak hammocks and riparian habitats were important for species of high management concern, but burned sandhills along with oak hammocks and riparian habitats were very important for species of the greatest management concern. Our results suggest that habitat modifications resulting from restoration of the longleaf pine ecosystem will benefit many species of management concern. Bird species negatively affected by habitat modifications for longleaf pine restoration were abundant in other habitats. South. J. Appl. For. 27(2):107–121.

Keywords: Gulf Coastal Plain; Longleaf pine restoration; Partners in Flight concern scores; Pinus palustris; barrier islands; bird communities; environmental management; forest; forest management; forest resources; forestry; forestry research; forestry science; natural resource management; natural resources; neotropical migrants; oak hammocks; prescribed burning; riparian zones

Document Type: Miscellaneous

Affiliations: 1: Department of Biological Sciences, Auburn University, 331 Funchess Hall, Alabama, 36849, 2: Biological Resources Division, U.S. Geological Survey, Alabama Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Auburn University, 331 Funchess Hall, Alabama, 36849,

Publication date: 2003-05-01

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  • Each regional journal of applied forestry focuses on research, practice, and techniques targeted to foresters and allied professionals in specific regions of the United States and Canada. The Southern Journal of Applied Forestry covers an area from Virginia and Kentucky south to as far west as Oklahoma and east Texas.
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