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1 January 2014 Vegetative and Bird Community Response to Management in a Mountain Longleaf Pine Forest
John Kronenberger, Martin Cipollini, Thomas Baldvins, Andrew Montgomery, Averi Simpson
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Over the last century, logging, land conversion, and fire suppression have reduced longleaf pine (Pinus palustris Mill.) ecosystems to a small fraction of their original range. Fire suppression, in particular, has facilitated encroachment by non-fire-tolerant trees and heavy litter buildup, leading to shifts in the native plant and animal community. In 2001, efforts were initiated to re-establish parts of Berry College's (Floyd County, GA) fire-suppressed mountain longleaf pine forest using combinations of prescribed fire, clear-cutting, planting, and herbicide application. We designed this study to determine the effects of management practices thus far on vegetation structure and the bird community. In 2009, vegetation structure data were collected in longleaf pine stands comprising three management classes ranging from low- to high-intensity management. Bird surveys were conducted from summer 2009 to spring 2010, and avifaunal community structure was related to vegetative characteristics within each stand. Unmanaged stands were strongly associated with common omnivorous, ground-foraging, and canopy-nesting birds of mixed woodlands. Intermediately managed stands contained mostly birds of mixed diet and aerial- and bark-feeding cavity nesters. Heavily managed stands were strongly associated with insect-, vertebrate-, seed-, and fruit-eating ground and shrub nesters, with several sightings of the near-threatened Bachman's sparrow (Peucaea aestivalis Lichtenstein). Intensity of management was positively correlated with canopy openness, understory development, and low litter levels. These vegetative differences helped explain the bird community makeup. We provide baseline data for assessing the impacts of management of mountain longleaf pine and similarly fire-suppressed forests on avian abundance and species richness.

John Kronenberger, Martin Cipollini, Thomas Baldvins, Andrew Montgomery, and Averi Simpson "Vegetative and Bird Community Response to Management in a Mountain Longleaf Pine Forest," Natural Areas Journal 34(1), 8-23, (1 January 2014).
Published: 1 January 2014

bird community
Pinus palustris
prescribed fire
Southeast U.S.
vegetative cover
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