Biodiversity & Conservation

, Volume 10, Issue 4, pp 495–510 | Cite as

Woodland area, species turnover and the conservation of bird assemblages in lowland England

  • Christopher F. Mason


A study over 4 years into the number of breeding bird species and species turnover (extinctions and colonisations) in relation to area was conducted in 35 woodlands, set in an intensively farmed landscape, in north-east Essex, UK. A total of 46 species was recorded. The number of species breeding increased with woodland area; the slope of the species–area relationship did not differ between years. Habitat diversity was the only other measured variable to influence species richness. Absolute species turnover was independent of woodland area but relative turnover declined with increase in woodland area. The numbers of territories of nine species were determined. For four summer visitors the number of woods occupied increased as the overall populations increased but, for the other species, changes in overall population size led to changes in numbers in occupied woods. Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs and Song Thrush Turdus philomelos were more associated with woodland edges, Nightingale Luscinia megarhynchos, Garden Warbler Sylvia borin, Chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybita and Willow Warbler P. trochilus with interiors. Several species showed an inverse relationship between population density and woodland area. Collections of small woods hold similar species richness to single large woods. While the acquisition of large woods for conservation purposes should be a priority, the extension of smaller woods to a size of about 10 ha would be highly beneficial to both the species richness and population stability of regional woodland bird assemblages.

bird communities conservation species–area species turnover woodland 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christopher F. Mason
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Biological SciencesUniversity of EssexColchesterUK

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