, Volume 20, Issue 5, pp 497-511

Matrix Matters: Effects of Surrounding Land Uses on Forest Birds Near Ottawa, Canada

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Matrix quality affects probability of persistence in habitat patches in landscape simulation models while empirical studies show that both urban and agricultural land uses affect forest birds. However, due to the fact that forest bird abundance and species richness can be strongly influenced by local habitat factors, it is difficult to analyze matrix effects without confounding effects from such factors. Given this, our objectives were to (1) relate human-dominated land uses to forest bird abundance and species richness without confounding effects from other factors; (2) determine the scale at which forest birds respond to the matrix; and (3) identify whether certain bird migratory strategies or habitat associations vary in richness or abundance as a function of urban and agriculture land uses. Birds were surveyed at a single point count site 100 m from the edge of 23 deciduous forest patches near Ottawa, Ontario. Land uses surrounding each patch were measured within increasingly large circles from 200 to 5000 m radius around the bird survey site. Regression results suggest that effects of urban and agricultural land uses on forest birds (1) are not uniformly positive or negative, (2) can occur at different spatial scales, and (3) differentially affect certain groups of species. In general, agriculture appeared to affect species at a broad spatial scale (within 5 km), while urban land use had an impact at both a narrower spatial scale (within 1.8 km) and at the broad scale. Neotropical and short distance migrant birds seemed to be the most sensitive to land use intensification within the matrix. Limiting urban land use within approximately 200–1800 m of forest patches would be beneficial for Neotropical migrant birds, which are species of growing conservation concern in temperate North America.