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Variation in nesting success along an elevational gradient for three late-successional hardwood songbird species.
Stodola, Kirk 1, Linder, Eric1, Buehler, David2, Kim, Dan2, 1 Mississippi State Universtiy, Mississippi State, Mississippi2 University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tennessee
ABSTRACT- In the Southern Appalachians three abundant songbird species, the Ovenbird (Seiurus aurocapillus), Black-throated Blue Warbler (Dendroica caerulescens), and the Wood Thrush (Hylocichla mustelina) were all surveyed for nesting success along an elevational gradient. All three species show a preference for late-successional Oak-Hickory stands and show similar range of distributions with respect to elevation. However, within this range each species shows a preference for elevation with the Wood Thrush preferring low elevations, Ovenbirds preferring mid-elevations, and Black-throated Blue Warblers preferring high elevations. Preliminary nest success data in this region appears to shed light on this distribution. Three 15 ha study plots located along an elevational gradient ranging from 900m to 1300m and were surveyed May through July of 2002 to determine nesting success of these three songbird species. Mayfield estimates yielded differing patterns in nesting success with respect to each species and elevation. The Wood Thrush showed greatest nesting success, 62%, at 900m in elevation, with nest success decreasing with increasing elevation, 46% at 1100m, and 35% at 1300m. The Ovenbird peaks in nesting success at mid-elevations with nest success of 40% at 900m, 62% at 1100m, and 35% at 1300m. Finally the Black-throated Blue Warbler exhibits highest success at upper elevational plots, 20% at 1100m, and 31% at 1300m. This data suggests that when implementing conservation programs it may be important to take into account the elevational gradient of the habitat.
Key words: nest success, elevational gradient