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Seasonal bird use of canopy gaps in a bottomland forestAuthor(s): Liessa T. Bowen; Christopher E. Moorman; John C. Kilgo
Source: The Wilson Journal of Ornithology, Vol. 119(1): 77-88
Publication Series: Miscellaneous Publication
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DescriptionBird use of small canopy gaps within mature forests has not been well studied, particularly across multiple seasons. We investigated seasonal differences in bird use of gap and forest habitat within a bottomland hardwood forest in the Upper Coastal Plain of South Carolina. Gaps were 0.13- to 0.5-ha, 7- to 8- year-old group-selection timber harvest openings. Our study occurred during four bird-use periods (spring migration, breeding, postbreeding, and fall migration) in 2001 and 2002. We used plot counts and mist netting to estimate bird abundance in canopy gaps and surrounding mature forest habitats. Using both survey methods, we observed more birds, including forest-interior species, forest-edge species, field-edge species, and several individual species in canopy gap and gap-edge habitats than in surrounding mature forest during all periods. Interactions between period and habitat type often were significant in models, suggesting a seasonal shift in habitat use. Bird activity generally shifted between the interior of canopy gaps and the immediate gap edge, but many species increased their use of forested habitat during the breeding period. This suggests that many species of birds selectively choose gap and gap-edge habitat over surrounding mature forest during the non-breeding period. Creation of small canopy gaps within a mature forest may increase local bird species richness. The reasons for increased bird activity in gaps remain unclear.
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CitationBowen, Liessa T.; Moorman, Christopher E.; Kilgo, John C. 2007. Seasonal bird use of canopy gaps in a bottomland forest. The Wilson Journal of Ornithology, Vol. 119(1): 77-88
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