, Volume 8, Issue 1, pp 1-13

The guild concept applied to management of bird populations

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Abstract

Alternative ways to apply the guild concept to wildlife management are evaluated here. I reject the idea that indicator species can be selected for each bird guild to reduce costs of environmental assessment and monitoring. Promise is seen, however, in the option of using whole guilds to indicate the capability of habitat zones to support populations of wildlife species. It may be adequate for most management purposes to delineate guilds only for species that use an environment for breeding, because transients and winter residents probably use the same zones of the habitat in the same ways. Potential guilds are identified by cells of a two-dimensional matrix, the axes identifying primary feeding and nesting zones. Some questions may be answered with guilds as delineated by all cells in the matrix. Alternatively, larger guilds can be formed by grouping all species in each column or row of the matrix to identify, for example, all species that depend on tree canopies for foraging, or tree boles for nesting. One can also consider separately the resident breeders, migrant breeders, and winter residents to obtain insights into whether observed changes in numbers of birds in a guild are a result of conditions locally or elsewhere. I conclude that the guild concept probably has a place in wildlife management, but much testing must be done before it is widely applied.