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Breeding Bird Populations in the Great Smoky Mountains, Tennessee and North Carolina

S. Charles Kendeigh and Ben J. Fawver
The Wilson Bulletin
Vol. 93, No. 2 (Jun., 1981), pp. 218-242
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4161462
Page Count: 25
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Breeding Bird Populations in the Great Smoky Mountains, Tennessee and North Carolina
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Abstract

Species composition and population sizes of birds were determined in 12 plant communities of the Great Smoky Mountains during the summers of 1947 and 1948. Plant communities form a mosaic of seral and climax stages that varies with altitude and slope exposure. Coefficients of species and population similarities indicated that distinct bird communities may be identified, associated with deciduous forest, forest-edge, boreal forest and a south-eastern mixed complex. Each type of vegetation with its bird life has had a different geological history that affects its present composition and characteristics. Bird species are classified to the vegetation type to which they appear best adapted as indicated by their attainment of highest populations. Composition of bird species within particular stands of a vegetation type is influenced by the location of the stand in respect to species' ranges, neighboring avifaunas, annual fluctuations (especially of the less common species), inter-species competition and responses to temperature and possibly moisture as determined by elevation and slope exposure. The species diversity index (H′) varied positively with species richness (s) and was of limited value in comparing bird populations. Distributions of bird population sizes in all plant communities was positively skewed. Skewness (g1) varied negatively with (J′) and is preferred as an index as it indicates degree of departure from a symmetrical distribution rather than from equal population sizes of species. Increasing elevation was correlated with lower species richness (s), larger number of pairs per species (p/s) and a tendency toward higher g1, although the latter also varied independently of altitude. Avifaunas with g1 greater than 2.0 contained one or more species with high abundance resulting from local prevalence of favored vegetation niches and lack of inter-species competition or with temporary super-abundance of a food resource. Values of p/s may be compared when the g1 of avifaunas are similar. P/s varied negatively with s, indicating that with larger number of species present, inter-species competition caused fundamental niches not to be fully realized, with the consequence that growth of populations for individual species was limited.

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