We used a 60-yr forest simulation of the Cherokee National Forest, Tennessee, USA, to model the effects of timber harvest and natural disturbance upon habitat availability for 6 songbird species: Acadian flycatcher (Epidonax virescens), blue-headed vireo (Vireo solitarius), chestnut-sided warbler (Dendroica pensylvanica), tufted titmouse (Parus bicolor), yellow-billed cuckoo (Coccyzus americanus), and yellow-throated warbler (Dendroica dominica). Forest simulations, based on expected harvest intensities and historic levels of natural disturbance, were used to update a stand inventory database at 10-yr intervals between 1993 and 2053. Habitat models for the 6 bird species were applied to the updated stand inventory and available habitat quantified for each decade. Late-successional species showed substantial increases in habitat availability over the 60-yr period at most harvest intensities, whereas habitat for early-successional species was stable or declined at most harvest intensities. Acadian flycatcher, yellow-throated warbler, and blue-headed vireo habitat increased by 200%, 213%, and 40%, respectively, whereas tufted titmouse habitat remained relatively constant at expected harvest levels. Chestnut-sided warbler habitat was stable at expected harvest levels but declined at lower harvest intensities, and yellow-billed cuckoo habitat declined by 37% at expected harvest levels. Natural disturbance had little effect on habitat availability for any bird species compared to the effects of timber harvests and increasing forest age. Our models suggest that anthropogenic disturbance, and lack thereof, can play a definitive role determining habitat availability and population viability for forest songbirds.
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Vol. 69 • No. 1