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Bird Nesting Ecology in a Forest Defoliated by Gypsy Moths
Jennifer L. Bell and Robert C. Whitmore
The Wilson Bulletin
Vol. 112, No. 4 (Dec., 2000), pp. 524-531
Published by: Wilson Ornithological Society
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4164273
Page Count: 8
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Acadian Flycatcher (Empidonax virescens, n = 55), Indigo Bunting (Passerina cyanea, n = 60), Eastern Towhee (Pipilo erythrophthalmus, n = 41), and Wood Thrush (Hylocichla mustelina, n = 62) nests were monitored during 1995-1996 in the eastern panhandle of West Virginia, at the Sleepy Creek Wildlife Management Area. The objective of this study was to relate the outcomes of bird nests to surrounding habitat characteristics in an area that experienced heavy tree mortality from prior defoliation by the gypsy moth (Lymantria dispar). Large (> 22.9 cm dbh) standing snags in the nest patch were not associated with nest failure for any of the four bird species. Very large diameter (> 38.1 cm dbh) live trees and snags and reduced canopy cover increased the chances of Brown-headed Cowbird (Molothrus ater) parasitism only for Indigo Buntings. Nest patches of all four species differed in vegetation characteristics from random plots in similar habitat, typically by having greater densities of species' preferred nesting substrate in the nest patch. Gypsy moth defoliation, which can result in an increase in snags and opened canopy, is not likely to be a devastating ecological event for shrub and sub-canopy nesting avian species, and can create more nesting habitat for many species that use a dense forest understory.
The Wilson Bulletin © 2000 Wilson Ornithological Society