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Options for managing early-successional forest and shrubland bird habitats in the northeastern United States



Publication type:

Scientific Journal (JRNL)

Primary Station(s):

Northern Research Station

Historical Station(s):

Northeastern Research Station


Forest Ecology and Management. 185: 179-191.


Historically, forests in the northeastern United States were disturbed by fire, wind, Native American agriculture, flooding, and beavers (Castor canadensis). Of these, wind and beavers are now the only sources of natural disturbance. Most disturbance-dependent species, especially birds, are declining throughout the region whereas species affiliated with mature forests are generally increasing or maintaining populations. Disturbance must be simulated for conservation of early-successional species, many of which are habitat specialists compared to those associated with mature forests. Both the maintenance of old fields and forest regeneration are needed to conserve brushland species. Regenerating forest habitats are more ephemeral than other woody early-successional habitats. The types and amounts of early-successional habitats created depend on the silvicultural system used, patch size selected, time between regeneration cuts, and rotation age. We recommend that group selection and patch cuts should be at least 0.8 ha, and patches should be generated approximately every 10-15 years depending on site quality. Regeneration of intolerant and mid tolerant tree species should be increased or maintained in managed stands. Also, frost pockets, unstocked, or poorly-stocked stands can provid opportunities to increase the proportion of early-successional habitats in managed forests.


DeGraaf, Richard M.; Yamasaki, Mariko. 2003. Options for managing early-successional forest and shrubland bird habitats in the northeastern United States. Forest Ecology and Management. 185: 179-191.

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