, Volume 11, Issue 9, pp 1551-1566

Avian richness and abundance in temperate Danish forests: tree variables important to birds and their conservation

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Abstract

Many studies on avian diversity and forest structure have focused onfiner scale forest variables such as foliage height diversity, foliagediversity, foliage density, vertical distribution of vegetation and horizontalvegetation density. From a conservation and forestry operational point of viewit would be of great interest if tree variables influenced directly by forestrymanagement decisions also had significant influence on avian richness andabundance. The species, age and size of a tree are examples of such treevariables. A great number of studies also have focused on avian diversityindices to reveal relationships with vegetation variables. However, it may bemore appropriate for foresters and conservation officers to operate withrichness and abundance measures directly, because indices complicateinterpretations on the relative importance of the two variables (richness andabundance) constituting the index. Fourteen managed temperate forests in Denmarkwere investigated for avian species richness and abundance and related tomeasures on different tree variables influenced directly by forestry managementdecisions. A rapid assessment method of avian richness and abundance wasemployed. It consisted of point-counts of bird richness and abundance within 1km2 of forest. General linear models were tested byanalyses of variance statistics to reveal the tree variables most important toavian richness and abundance. It was found that more old trees, more treespecies and more tree size-classes correlated with more bird species andindividuals. However, some variation in bird richness and abundance was alsorelated to site quality and/or chance colonization. Moreover, it was shown thatthe guild of cavity-nesting birds correlated positively to age of tree stand.The potential number of bird species in Danish forest is similar to that innearly pristine forest in Poland, and much larger than that recorded in any ofthe forests investigated. Together with the results above, this indicates a highpotential for squeezing in more avian species in a higher quality forest from abiodiversity point of view. Modern Danish forestry affects tree variablesinfluenced directly by forestry management decisions. Such tree variables havegreat influence on avian richness and abundance, but simple measures in forestrypractices can be taken to enhance the conservation of bird richness andabundance.