Landscape Ecology

, Volume 15, Issue 6, pp 547-562

Landscape effects mediate breeding bird abundance in midwestern forests

  • Christine A. Howell
  • , Steven C. Latta
  • , Therese M. DonovanAffiliated withCollege of Environmental Science and Forestry
  • , Paul A. PorneluziAffiliated withDivision of Science and Mathematics, Central Methodist College
  • , Geoffrey R. ParksAffiliated withDivision of Biological Sciences, University of Missouri
  • , John FaaborgAffiliated withDivision of Biological Sciences, University of Missouri

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We examine the influence of both local habitat and landscape variables on avian species abundance at forested study sites situated within fragmented and contiguous landscapes. The study was conducted over a six year period (1991–1996) at 10 study sites equally divided between the heavily forested Missouri Ozarks and forest fragments in central Missouri. We found greater species richness and diversity in the fragments, but there was a higher percentage of Neotropical migrants in the Ozarks. We found significant differences in the mean number of birds detected between the central Missouri fragments and the unfragmented Ozarks for 15 (63%) of 24 focal species. We used stepwise regression to determine which of 12 local vegetation variables and 4 landscape variables (forest cover, core area, edge density, and mean patch size) accounted for the greatest amount of variation in abundance for 24 bird species. Seven species (29%) were most sensitive to local vegetation variables, while 16 species (67%) responded most strongly to one of four landscape variables. Landscape variables are significant predictors of abundance for many bird species; resource managers should consider multiple measures of landscape sensitivity when making bird population management decisions.

avian abundance avian ecology edge effects fragmentation landscape sensitivity matrix Neotropical migratory birds patch size population trends