Skip to main content

Are Boreal Riparian Bird Communities Unique? Contrasting Riparian and Upland Bird Assemblages in the Boreal Plain of Western Canada

Abstract

Riparian ecotones in arid regions often contain unique species and have higher species richness and abundance relative to upland habitats making them of higher conservation priority than other habitats. However, such differences in species richness and abundance may not be apparent in more mesic regions. We compared species frequency of occurrence and abundance, richness and turnover of bird assemblages in two aquatic ecotone types with those in nearby interior upland forests in the boreal forest of Alberta, Canada. Riparian edge habitats had higher species richness and more species with significant indicator values than lowland forest edge or interior upland forest and the greatest differences in bird community composition were between riparian edge and upland interio habitats. Species turnover was highest in riparian habitats attributable to the presence of rare species or higher spatial and structural heterogeneity of those systems. When contrasting the upland forested area adjacent to the waterbody versus a similar sized area in the upland forest interior, riparian areas still contained higher richness but had fewer indicator species. We suggest that riparian areas and the adjacent shoreline forest contribute considerably to the regional richness of bird communities in the boreal forest and management policies should reflect this characteristic.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5

References

  • Alberta Government (2016) Alberta Timber Harvest Planning and Operating Ground Rules Framework for Renewal (Alberta Sustainable Resource Development, Ed.), Edmonton, AB.

  • Anderson MJ, Ellingsen KE, McArdle BH (2006) Multivariate dispersion as a measure of beta diversity. Ecology Letters 9:683–693

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Aznar J-C, Derocher AE (2008) Building for the future: abandoned beaver ponds promote bird diversity. Ecoscience 15:250–257

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Bayne EM, Haché S, Hobson KA (2010) Comparing the predictive capability of forest songbird habitat models based on remotely sensed versus ground-based vegetation information. Canadian Journal of Forest Research 40:65–71

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Borger L, Nudds TD (2014) Fire, humans, and climate: modeling distribution dynamics of boreal forest waterbirds. Ecological Applications 24:121–141

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Clarke KR (1999) Nonmetric multivariate analysis in community-level ecotoxicology. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry 18:118–127

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Conway CJ (2011) Standardized north American marsh bird monitoring protocol. Waterbirds 34:319–346

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Croonquist MJ, Brooks RP (1991) Use of avian and mammalian guilds as indicators of cumulative impacts in riparian-wetland areas. Environmental Management 15:701–714

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Dufrêne M, Legendre P (1997) Species assemblages and indicator species: the need for a flexible asymmetrical approach. Ecological Monographs 67:345–366

    Google Scholar 

  • Environment Canada (2013) Bird Conservation Strategy for Bird Conservation Region 6: Boreal Taiga Plains

  • Erskine, AJ (1977). Birds in boreal Canada: communities, densities, and adaptations

  • Ferone JM, Devito KJ (2004) Shallow groundwater–surface water interactions in pond-peatland complexes along a Boreal Plains topographic gradient. Journal of Hydrology 292:75–95

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Gotelli NJ, Colwell RK (2001) Quantifying biodiversity: procedures and pitfalls in the measurement and comparison of species richness. Ecology Letters 4:379–391

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Gotelli, NJ, Entsminger GL (2000). EcoSim:null models software for ecology. Acquired Intelligence Inc & Kesey-Bear

  • Gray LJ (1993) Response of insectivorous birds to emerging aquatic insects in riparian habitats of a tallgrass prairie stream. The American Midland Naturalist 129:288–300

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Grondin P, Gauthier S, Borcard D, Bergeron Y, Tardif P, Hotte D (2014) Drivers of contemporary landscape vegetation heterogeneity in the Canadian boreal forest: integrating disturbances (natural and human) with climate and physical environment. Ecoscience 21:340–373

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hannon SJ, Paszkowski CA, Boutin S, DeGroot J, Macdonald SE, Wheatley M, Eaton BR (2002) Abundance and species composition of amphibians, small mammals, and songbirds in riparian forest buffer strips of varying widths in the boreal mixedwood of Alberta. Canadian Journal of Forest Research 32:1784–1800

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Harper KA, Macdonald SE (2001) Structure and composition of riparian boreal forest: new methods for analyzing edge influence. Ecology 82:649–659

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hobson KA, Schieck J (1999) Changes in bird communities in boreal mixedwood forest: harvest and wildfire effects over 30 years. Ecological Applications 9:849–863

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hobson KA, Bayne EM, Van Wilgenburg SL (2002a) Large-scale conversion of forest to agriculture in the boreal plains of Saskatchewan. Conservation Biology 16:1–13

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hobson KA, Bayne EM, Van Wilgenburg SL (2002b) Large scale conversion of forest to agriculture in the Boreal Plains of Saskatchewan. Conservation Biology 16:1530–1541

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Johnson, E. A. (1992). Fire and vegetation dynamics: Studies from the North American Boreal Forest. Cambridge University Press, Great Britainl

  • Kardynal KJ, Hobson KA, Van Wilgenburg SL, Morissette JL (2009) Moving riparian management guidelines towards a natural disturbance model: an example using boreal riparian and shoreline forest bird communities. Forest Ecology and Management 257:54–65

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kardynal KJ, Morissette JL, Van Wilgenburg SL, Bayne EM, Hobson KA (2011) Avian responses to experimental harvest in southern boreal mixedwood shoreline forests: implications for riparian buffer management. Canadian Journal of Forest Research 41:2375–2388

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Knopf FL, Samson FB (1994) Scale perspectives on avian diversity in western riparian ecosystems. Conservation Biology 8:669–676

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Larue P, Bélanger L, Huot J (1995) Riparian edge effects on boreal balsam fir bird communities. Canadian Journal of Forest Research 25:555–566

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Lee P, Smyth C, Boutin S (2004) Quantitative review of riparian buffer width guidelines from Canada and the United States. Journal of Environmental Management 70:165–180

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Lewis TL, Schmutz JA, Amundson CL, Lindberg MS, Tulloch A (2016) Waterfowl populations are resilient to immediate and lagged impacts of wildfires in the boreal forest. Journal of Applied Ecology 53:1746–1754

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Macdonald SE, Eaton B, Machtans CS, Paszkowski C, Hannon S, Boutin S (2006) Is forest close to lakes ecologically unique? Forest Ecology and Management 223:1–17

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • MacDonald RL, Chen HYH, Palik BP, Prepas EE (2014) Influence of harvesting on understory vegetation along a boreal riparian-upland gradient. Forest Ecology and Management 312:138–147

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Marczak LB, Sakamaki T, Turvey SL, Deguise I, Wood SLR, Richardson JS (2010) Are forested buffers an effective conservation strategy for riparian fauna? An assessment using meta-analysis. Ecological Applications 20:126–134

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Martell KA, Foote AL, Cumming SG (2006) Riparian disturbance due to beavers (Castor canadensis) in Alberta’s boreal mixedwood forests: implications for forest management. Ecoscience 13:164–171

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • McComb WC, Chambers CL, Newton M (1993) Small mammal and amphibian communities and habitat associations in red alder stands. Central Oregon Coast Range Northwest Science 67:181–188

    Google Scholar 

  • McCune, B, Mefford MJ (2011) PC-ORD. Multivariate analysis of ecological data. MjM Software, Gleneden Beach

    Google Scholar 

  • McGarigal K, McComb WC (1992) Streamside versus upslope breeding bird communities in the Central Oregon coast range. Journal of Wildlife Management 56:10–23

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Mielke PW, Berry KJ (2001) Permutation methods: a distance function approach. Springer

  • Morissette JL, Kardynal KJ, Bayne EM, Hobson KA (2013) Comparing bird community composition among boreal wetlands: is wetland classification a missing piece of the habitat puzzle? Wetlands 33:653–665

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Naiman RJ, Decamps H (1997) The ecology of interfaces: riparian zones. Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics 28:621–658

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Niemi G, Hanowski J, Helle P, Howe R, Mönkkönen M, Vernier L, Welsh D (1998) Ecological sustainability of birds in boreal forests. Conservation Ecology 2:17

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Nur N, Ballard G, Geupel GR (2008) Regional analysis of riparian bird species response to vegetation and local habitat features. Wilson Journal of Ornithology 120:840–855

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Pollock MM, Naiman RJ, Hanley TA (1998) Plant species richness in riparian wetlands—a test of biodiversity theory. Ecology 79:94–105

    Google Scholar 

  • Ricklefs RE (1977) Environmental heterogeneity and plant species diversity: a hypothesis. The American Naturalist 111:376–381

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Ries L, Fletcher RJ, Battin J, Sisk TD (2004) Ecological responses to habitat edges: mechanisms, models, and variability explained. Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics 35:491–522

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Sabo JL, Sponseller R, Dixon M, Gade K, Harms T, Heffernan J, Jani A, Katz G, Soykan C, Watts J, Welter J (2005) Riparian zones increase regional species richness by harboring different, not more, species. Ecology 86:56–62

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Sanders TA, Edge WD (1998) Breeding bird community composition in relation to riparian vegetation structure in the western United States. Journal of Wildlife Management 62:461–473

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Schmiegelow FKA, Mönkkönen M (2002) Habitat loss and fragmentation in dynamic landscapes: avian perspectives from the boreal forest. Ecological Applications 12:375–389

    Google Scholar 

  • Soykan CU, Brand LA, Ries L, Stromberg JC, Hass C, Simmons DA Jr, Patterson WJ, Sabo JL (2012) Multitaxonomic diversity patterns along a desert riparian-upland gradient. PLoS One 7:e28235

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Stein A, Gerstner K, Kreft H (2014) Environmental heterogeneity as a universal driver of species richness across taxa, biomes and spatial scales. Ecology Letters 17:866–880

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Stralberg D, Bayne EM, Cumming SG, Sólymos P, Song SJ, Schmiegelow FKA, Loyola R (2015) Conservation of future boreal forest bird communities considering lags in vegetation response to climate change: a modified refugia approach. Diversity and Distributions 21:1112–1128

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Stralberg D, Matsuoka SM, Handel CM, Schmiegelow FKA, Hamann A, Bayne EM (2016) Biogeography of boreal passerine range dynamics in western North America: past, present, and future. Ecography 40:1050–1066

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Thomas L, Buckland ST, Rexstad EA, Laake JL, Strindberg S, Hedley SL, Bishop JR, Marques TA, Burnham KP (2010) Distance software: design and analysis of distance sampling surveys for estimating population size. Journal of Applied Ecology 47:5–14

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Trettin CC, Jurgensen MF, Grigal DF, Gale MR, Jeglum JR (1996) Northern forested wetlands ecology and management. CRC Press, New York

    Google Scholar 

  • Van Wilgenburg SL, Hobson KA (2008) Landscape-scale disturbance and boreal forest birds: can large single-pass harvest approximate fires? Forest Ecology and Management 256:136–146

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Virkkala R (2016) Long-term decline of southern boreal forest birds: consequence of habitat alteration or climate change? Biodiversity and Conservation 25:151–167

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Vitt DH, Halsey L, Zoltai SC (1994) The bog landforms of continental western Canada in relation to climate and permafrost pattens. Arctic and Alpine Research 26:1–13

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Whitaker DM, Montevecchi WA (1997) Breeding bird assemblages associated with riparian, interior forest, and nonriparian edge habitats in a balsam fir ecosystem. Canadian Journal of Forest Research 27:1159–1167

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Williams DW, Liebhold AM (2000) Spatial synchrony of spruce budworm outbreaks in eastern North America. Ecology 81:2753–2766

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgements

We thank T. Lanson, C. Stevens, S. Haughian, L. Flaman, and S. Bumstead for their able field work. T. Cobb, C. Pazscowski and L.Foote reviewed and provided thoughtful comment to early drafts. G. Stewart, E. Butterworth initially championed the project and K. Devito allowed us to use the Hydrology Ecology and Disturbance project field camp. This project was supported by the Alberta Conservation Association (project # 0308090101), Ducks Unlimited Canada, Environment Canada -Western Boreal Conservation Initiative, Sustainable Forest Management Network (project # hobsonkbore9) and the University of Alberta. We are grateful to two anonymous reviewers for their comments that greatly improved this manuscript.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Kevin J. Kardynal.

Electronic Supplementary Material

ESM 1

(DOC 137 kb)

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Morissette, J.L., Kardynal, K.J., Bayne, E.M. et al. Are Boreal Riparian Bird Communities Unique? Contrasting Riparian and Upland Bird Assemblages in the Boreal Plain of Western Canada. Wetlands 38, 1299–1311 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13157-018-1054-1

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s13157-018-1054-1

Keywords

  • Riparian
  • Community ecology
  • Conservation policy
  • Species turnover
  • Wetlands