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Response of Birds to Grazing of Riparian Zones

Gary J. Popotnik and William M. Giuliano
The Journal of Wildlife Management
Vol. 64, No. 4 (Oct., 2000), pp. 976-982
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Wildlife Society
DOI: 10.2307/3803207
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3803207
Page Count: 7
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Response of Birds to Grazing of Riparian Zones
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Abstract

Livestock grazing of streams and associated riparian areas may negatively impact avian communities through direct disturbance and alteration of vegetation structure. We determined the effects of grazing on vegetation, avian abundance, species richness, and reproductive success on pasture streams and associated riparian habitats in southwest Pennsylvania. Bird counts, nest monitoring, and vegetation sampling were conducted on 12 pairs (grazed and control) of streams in 1996 and 10 pairs in 1997. Compared with control streams, grazed areas had lower avian species richness and abundance. Several wetland-and riparian-dependent species (e.g., common snipe [Gallinago gallinago], great blue heron [Ardea herodias], green-backed heron [Butorides striatus], belted kingfisher [Ceryle alcyon], and solitary sandpiper [Tringa solitatia]) were found more often or only on control areas. Although nest density was higher and nest destruction rates by livestock were lower on control streams, nest success (all species combined) was not affected by grazing. Avian communities in control areas appear to benefit primarily from improved vegetative cover and structure. Thus, management should focus on excluding livestock from such areas.

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