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Use of Successional Habitat and Fruit Resources by Songbirds during Autumn Migration in Central New Jersey

Hannah B. Suthers, Jean M. Bickal and Paul G. Rodewald
The Wilson Bulletin
Vol. 112, No. 2 (Jun., 2000), pp. 249-260
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4164202
Page Count: 12
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Use of Successional Habitat and Fruit Resources by Songbirds during Autumn Migration in Central New Jersey
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Abstract

We evaluated the effects of plant succession on habitat use and fruit resource availability for autumn migratory and resident songbirds in 43 ha of abandoned farm fields in central New Jersey. Using fixed net sites, standardized effort, and simultaneous sampling across habitat types, we mist-netted birds to compare habitat use and found that (1) use of three shrub-tree invasion interfaces declined as fruit-bearing shrubs were overgrown by trees, while use of three open shrublands changed little over the same period; (2) use of two pairs of contrasting successional habitats, shrubland and young woodland, was higher in the shrubland with abundant, highly nutritional fruits than in young woodland with sparse fruit; and (3) use of three shrublands at similar successional stages but with different fruit availability differed by bird taxonomic family and migratory strategy. Data on species composition and relative abundance of fruit-bearing shrubs and fruit consumption by birds (assessed by regurgitated and defecated matter) were used to elucidate avian patterns of habitat use. The relative abundance of fruit-bearing species may be more important than habitat structure in determining habitat use by birds. Shrubland dominated by panicled dogwood (Cornus racemosa) was favored over shrubland dominated by red cedar (Juniperus virginianum) or multiflora rose (Rosa multiflora). Favored vines were Japanese honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica), Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia), poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans), and grape (Vitis spp.).

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