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    Description

    Numerous studies have reported lower densities of breeding Ovenbirds (Seiurus aurocapillus) adjacent to forest edges. However, none of these studies has considered habitat use and reproductive success to address mechanisms underlying the observed pattern, and most were conducted in fragmented landscapes and ignored juxtapositions of forest with narrow openings such as roads. We studied the influence of forest roads on Ovenbird density in an extensively forested region of Vermont, evaluating habitat use and reproductive success relative to mechanisms proposed to explain the density-edge relationship. Territory densities on seven study plots were 40% lower within edge areas (0 to 150 rn from unpaved roads) than within interior areas (150 to 300 m from roads). We simulated the distribution of Ovenbird territories and concluded that passive displacement, where birds perceive habitat interfaces as boundaries and limit their territories entirely to forest habitat, did not account for the observed density-edge pattern. Territory size was inversely related to distance from roads, providing an alternative explanation for reduced densities near edges and suggesting that habitat quality was higher away from roads. Pairing success was lower within edge areas than within interior zones, but the difference was not statistically significant. The proportion of males that produced fledglings did not differ between edge and interior areas. We conclude that habitat quality for Ovenbirds may be lower within 150 rn of unpaved roads in extensive forested landscapes, affecting territory density and possibly reproductive success.

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    Citation

    Ortega, Yvette K.; Capen, David E. 1999. Effects of forest roads on habitat quality for Ovenbirds in a forested landscape. Auk. 116(4): 937-946.

    Keywords

    Ovenbirds, Seiurus aurocapillus, forest roads, habitat

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