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Effects of Width, Edge and Habitat on the Abundance and Nesting Success of Scrub-shrub Birds in Powerline Corridors


Richard B. Chandler
Jeffrey M. Collins
Wayne R. Petersen
Thomas E. Lautzenheiser



Publication type:

Scientific Journal (JRNL)

Primary Station(s):

Northern Research Station


Biological Conservation, 142:2672–2680.


Concern about declines in scrub–shrub bird populations has resulted in efforts to create and maintain habitat for these species. Vegetation within powerline corridors is managed to prevent contact of vegetation with transmission lines, and comprises approximately 2% of all of habitat for scrub–shrub birds in southern New England. Although previous studies have documented the use of powerline corridors by scrub–shrub birds, important questions remain about the factors affecting the quality of corridors as habitat for these species. We surveyed birds and monitored nests on 15 corridors in western Massachusetts during 2002 and 2003 to determine whether scrub–shrub birds occupy and successfully reproduce in powerline corridors, and to identify the principal factors affecting scrub–shrub abundance and nesting success. We found that corridors were occupied by scrub–shrub birds of high regional conservation priority, however, four of seven focal scrub–shrub bird species were scarce or absent in narrow corridors, and the abundance of these species was highest in corridors of intermediate width. Overall, nest survival was low (0.14) at these sites relative to other types of early successional habitats in the region, however, if we consider only our sites that were wider than the median width (≥49 m), nest survival in corridors was (0.33), similar to survival rates reported in other studies of scrub–shrub birds. We conclude that powerline corridors provide habitat for early successional birds of conservation concern, with wider corridors (≥50 m) contributing more to regional conservation of these species.


King, David I.; Chandler, Richard B.; Collins, Jeffrey M.; Petersen, Wayne R.; Lautzenheiser, Thomas E. 2009. Effects of Width, Edge and Habitat on the Abundance and Nesting Success of Scrub-shrub Birds in Powerline Corridors. Biological Conservation, 142:2672–2680.


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