Skip to Main Content
Due to a lapse in federal funding, this USDA website will not be actively updated. Once funding has been reestablished, online operations will continue.
Demography of Lewis's Woodpecker, breeding bird densities, and riparian aspen integrity in a grazed landscapeAuthor(s): Karen Rachel Newlon
Source: M.S. Thesis. Montana State University, Bozeman. 101 p.
Publication Series: Miscellaneous Publication
PDF: View PDF (1 MB)
DescriptionAspen (Populus tremuloides) riparian woodlands are extremely limited in distribution throughout the western U.S., yet these habitats have a disproportionate value to breeding birds. Aspen habitats are also considered prime sheep and cattle summer range, particularly in the semiarid Intermountain West. Such concentrated use has raised concern about the effects of sheep and cattle grazing on these habitats. We examined the influences of sheep and cattle grazing on aspen riparian woodlands and the associated breeding bird community. We had two objectives: 1) to determine how habitats grazed by sheep and cattle influenced the reproductive biology of Lewis's Woodpecker (Melanerpes lewis) and 2) to determine how vegetation differed between sheep and cattle-grazed aspen riparian woodlands and how these differences influenced breeding birds densities. To examine what factors influenced nest-site selection in Lewis's Woodpecker and whether these factors influenced nest survival, we quantified nest-site characteristics and monitored nests to determine nest fate. Lewis's Woodpecker nest-site selection was positively influenced by nest tree diameter and tree density and negatively influenced by increasing amounts of bare ground and woody stems. However, these characteristics were not strong predictors of nest survival. Instead, nest initiation date and daily average temperature had the strongest influence. To examine differences in vegetation between sheep- and cattle-grazed aspen riparian woodlands and how these differences influenced the densities of five breeding bird species, we compared several vegetation characteristics between these grazing treatments and conducted point transect surveys and used distance sampling techniques to estimate breeding bird densities. Cattle-grazed sites had more bare ground, less herbaceous cover, lower willow (Salix spp.) densities, and lower aspen densities than sheep-grazed sites. Differences in breeding bird densities between these grazing treatments reflected these vegetation differences, as ground-nesting species and riparian specialists had lower densities in cattle-grazed areas. Data from this study provide landowners and land managers with information on the habitat requirements of sensitive bird species needed to implement compatible grazing strategies in aspen riparian woodlands.
- You may send email to firstname.lastname@example.org to request a hard copy of this publication.
- (Please specify exactly which publication you are requesting and your mailing address.)
- We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
- This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.
CitationNewlon, Karen Rachel. 2005. Demography of Lewis''s Woodpecker, breeding bird densities, and riparian aspen integrity in a grazed landscape. M.S. Thesis. Montana State University, Bozeman. 101 p.
Keywordsaspen, Populus tremuloides, riparian woodlands, Lewis's Woodpecker, Melanerpes lewis, breeding bird densities
- Prairie dogs as ecosystem regulators on the northern High Plains
- Aboveground and belowground mammalian herbivores regulate the demography of deciduous woody species in conifer forests
- Tree cover changes in mamane (Sophora chrysophylla) forests grazed by sheep and cattle
XML: View XML