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Potential Effects of Groundcover Restoration on Breeding Bird Communities in Longleaf Pine Stands

Brandon T. Rutledge and L. Mike Conner
Wildlife Society Bulletin (1973-2006)
Vol. 30, No. 2 (Summer, 2002), pp. 354-360
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Wildlife Society
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3784491
Page Count: 7
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Potential Effects of Groundcover Restoration on Breeding Bird Communities in Longleaf Pine Stands
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Abstract

The longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) ecosystem is one of the most endangered ecosystems in the United States. Recent incentives have led to increased interest in longleaf pine restoration. These restoration efforts often emphasize reestablishing native groundcovers, yet there have been no studies that address the role of native groundcover on breeding bird communities within longleaf pine forests. Therefore, we studied breeding bird communities in mature longleaf pine stands with either native or disturbed groundcovers to determine the likely effects of groundcover reestablishment associated with longleaf pine reforestation. Avian species richness and diversity did not differ (P=0.823, P=0.571, respectively), and avian community similarity was high (Morisita's index=0.98) between native and disturbed groundcover. However, pine warblers (Dendroica pinus), gray catbirds (Dumetella carolinensis), eastern wood-pewees (Contopus virens), brown-headed cowbirds (Molothrus ater), and Bachman's sparrows (Aimophila aestivalis) were more abundant (P≤0.10) in areas with native groundcover, whereas indigo buntings (Passerina cyanea) were more abundant (P=0.058) in areas with disturbed groundcover. Although groundcover restoration may benefit some avian populations, overall avian species richness, diversity, and community composition may be unaffected. Restoration of native groundcover may be best justified for aesthetic values and as a tool to facilitate long-term stand management using prescribed fire.

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