Influence of Clearcut Age on Avian Species Composition, Abundance, and Reproductive Success

Clearcutting has been reduced in frequency in national forests of Arkansas. This will affect populations of birds that require early successional forest habitat. I studied avian distribution, abundance, and reproductive success in young (i.e., 7 to 10 years post-harvest) and old (i.e., 17 to 19 years post-harvest) forest clearcuts from 1993 to 1995. The number of species was greater in young than old clearcuts, with abundance of 5 species, white-eyed vireo (Vireo griseus), common yellowthroat (Geothlypis trichas), prairie warbler (Dendroica discolor), yellow-breasted chat (Icteria virens), and indigo bunting (Passerina cyanea) higher in young clearcuts. No difference in fledging success was detected between young and old clearcuts for any species; however, the ratio of hatching-year to after hatching-year birds captured in mist-nets was lower in older clearcuts for every species studied. Given the documented peaks in numbers of species and population size for early successional birds, maintaining habitat structure similar to that found on young clearcuts 7 to 10 years after site preparation is recommended to sustain early successional species in forests in Arkansas.

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