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A description of avian communities of upland forests of northern Mississippi: implications for oak-pine woodland restoration.
AQUILANI, STEVEN 1,2, BREWER, J.1, 1 2
ABSTRACT- To elucidate the effects of fire suppression and forest-patch size on avian communities in upland forests of northern Mississippi, we examined 1) tree community structure in upland and lowland presettlement and current upland forests, 2) current tree species composition adjacent to nests of forest-obligate migrant birds in upland forests, and 3) avian community structure within upland forest patches of various sizes. A comparision of bearing trees with current trees revealed that the second growth, closed-canopy forests we sampled were once open oak-pine woodlands. Tree species composition around nests of forest-obligate species was more similar to that of presettlement lowland forests than to current or past upland forests as a whole. Avian community structure differed with patch size. Detrended correspondence analysis of point counts revealed little overlap between forest-edge species and forest-obligate obligate species (the latter of which included many species of concern in Mississippi). However, no apparent edge effects of Brown-headed Cowbird parasitism were observed. These results suggest that prolonged fire suppression and recovery from logging early in the 1900s have created a closed-canopy mixed mesophytic forest that now favors nesting forest obligates. The more open habitats that characterized presettlement forests likely supported a substantially different avian community. We suggest that conversion of upland closed-canopy forests to open oak-pine woodlands will have a negative effect on forest-obligate species of concern but may benefit species adapted to open woodlands.
KEY WORDS: management, forest-obligate, restoration