Title page for ETD etd-11102011-115906

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Owens, Falyn LeAnn
Author's Email Address falyn.owens@gmail.com
URN etd-11102011-115906
Title Response of Disturbance-Dependent Breeding Bird Communities to Two Site Preparations in Loblolly Pine Plantations
Degree Master of Science (M.S.)
Department Renewable Natural Resources
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Stouffer, Philip C Committee Chair
Chamberlain, Michael J. Committee Member
Kaller, Michael D. Committee Member
  • loblolly plantations
  • disturbance-dependence
  • bird communities
  • CWD
  • row spacing
Date of Defense 2011-10-07
Availability unrestricted
Disturbance-dependent birds throughout the United States have recently experienced

significant declines due to fire suppression and conversion of wilderness to human-dominated

landscapes. In Louisiana, young loblolly pine plantations are an important source of early-

successional habitat for these specialist birds. However, changes in management practices may

affect forest stand suitability for bird communities that rely on them. Here I examined how

changes in two site preparations, tree row spacing [14 ft (4.3 m) vs. 20 ft (6.1 m)] and

arrangement of post-harvest woody debris (piled vs. scattered), impacted breeding, disturbance-

dependent birds. During four summers in 2006-2010, observers conducted point counts and

extended searches to determine species richness, abundance, and breeding activity for birds using

0-5 year old plantations at four locations across Louisiana. Vegetation measurements were also

recorded and reduced to three composite variables: structure, evergreen cover, and groundcover,

to determine how they might influence birds. Although bird communities increased by all

measures as stands matured, I found no evidence that they were impacted by any of the

experimental site preparations. Similarly, no vegetation measures differed among treatments,

although they were highly influential to birds. It appears that bird communities responded

positively to increases in vegetation structure, evergreen cover, and groundcover over time as

plants became established and breeding resources increased, regardless of either row spacing or

woody debris placement. Therefore, it does not appear that row spacing or debris distribution in

this study is an important consideration relative to disturbance-dependent bird communities. Due

to the importance of vegetation structure and cover to these birds, however, timber managers

should employ other methods that maximize non-competitive vegetation, such as thick

herbaceous groundcover, to improve habitat quality for disturbance-dependent birds.

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