I investigated the relative importance of floristics and physiognomy in determining community organization of autumn-migrating landbirds in a riparian corridor in New Mexico invaded by Tamarisk (Tamarix ramosissima). All six avian measures were associated with floristics, physiognomy, or both. However, usefulness in predicting migrant parameters differed between floristics and physiognomy, and depended on the vegetation measures used (direct measures vs. plant community-structure indices) and the scale investigated (micro- vs. macrohabitat). Using direct vegetation measures, migrant abundance, energy consumption, and evenness were more strongly associated with floristics than with physiognomy at all scales. Contrastingly, migrant species richness and diversity were more strongly associated with physiognomy than with floristics at the microhabitat scale, and appeared to be unrelated to vegetation measures at the macrohabitat scale. Migrant species composition was similar among floristically similar macrohabitats, but it was equally correlated with floristics and physiognomy at the microhabitat scale. Using plant community-structure indices, migrant species composition and evenness remained strongly associated with the floristic measure (plant species diversity). However, floristic diversity was most important in predicting migrant abundance and diversity, whereas both floristic and physiognomic (horizontal structure) diversity were important in predicting migrant energy consumption. Migrant species richness was not associated with plant community structure. Respective relationships of floristics and physiognomy to food resources and foraging substrates might explain observed bird–vegetation associations. The results indicated that floristics and physiognomy are both useful in predicting avian community organization in exotic vegetation, and such information can guide conservation and management strategies that seek to control Tamarix while protecting migrant landbirds and their stopover habitats.
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Vol. 125 • No. 3