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    Many ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) forests in the western US are dense and contain excessive accumulations of ground and ladder fuels, resulting in forests at high risk of catastrophic fire. Prescribed fire and thinning are two potential tools used in the reduction of forest fuels, although the ecological and economic consequences of applying these tools are not well understood. The national Fire and Fire Surrogates (FFS) Program seeks to quantify the effects of prescribed fire and thinning on a set of response variables, including wildlife. We measured the pre-treatment characteristics of Southwestern bird communities on treatment blocks prescribed by the FFS Program in ponderosa pine forests of northern Arizona; specifically, we measured avian community structure and avian foraging patterns. The three avian communities differed from each other across study areas but not across treatment units. To supplement the standard FFS protocols, we examined fine-scale patterns in habitat quality and habitat use by these bird communities. We observed an overall preference by bark- foraging birds for ponderosa pine in the larger diameter classes, a resource use pattern that may be in conflict with management objectives. This preliminary analysis of avian community structure establishes a robust baseline of pre-treatment data for the purpose of assessing the responses of birds to future manipulation of the treatment units. These results will strengthen efforts to integrate data from various components of the FFS Project, facilitating high-resolution correlational analysis of wildlife responses with other study variables including forest structure, arthropod community structure, and microclimate.

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    Dickson, Brett G.; Block, William M.; Sisk, Thomas D. 2004. Conceptual framework for studying the effects of fuels treatments on avian communities in ponderosa pine forests of northern Arizona. In: van Riper, Charles III; Cole, Kenneth L., eds. The Colorado Plateau: cultural, biological, and physical research. Tucson, Ariz.: The University of Arizona Press: 193-200


    Arizona, birds, GIS, microclimate, Pinus ponderosa, ponderosa pine, prescribed fire, restoration, scale, thinning, wildlife communities

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