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26 November 2021 Short-Term Effects of Two Hurricanes on Bird Populations in Southwestern Louisiana
Erik I. Johnson
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Hurricanes can have strong effects on wildlife populations and their habitats, with complex positive and negative outcomes. I demonstrate the utility of Audubon Christmas Bird Count (CBC) data by comparing results of the first Creole CBC after Hurricanes Laura (Category 4 on 27 August) and Delta (Category 2 on 9 October) in 2020 against 7 years of pre-hurricane Creole CBC baseline data in coastal Cameron Parish, LA. Bird community structure following the hurricanes was significantly different compared to the previous 7 years. Species richness significantly decreased in core (i.e., absent from 2 or fewer baseline CBCs) and irregularly (absent from 3 or more baseline CBCs) occurring bird species. Particularly hard hit were landbirds, whereas waterfowl, waterbirds, and shorebirds were more likely to show positive responses. Marshbird and raptor counts had the most neutral post-hurricane responses. Migratory species across all 6 guilds were also less likely than resident species to show negative responses and more likely to show positive responses to the hurricanes. These results demonstrate differing vulnerabilities of birds to hurricanes, an understanding of which is critical for developing conservation strategies to minimize negative population effects in the face of future increased hurricane intensity.

Erik I. Johnson "Short-Term Effects of Two Hurricanes on Bird Populations in Southwestern Louisiana," Southeastern Naturalist 20(4), 560-571, (26 November 2021).
Published: 26 November 2021
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