Differences in habitat associations or responses to environmental stressors among broadly co-distributed species can result in local variation in community composition. As a result, ongoing environmental change may drive shifts in community composition, especially at range peripheries. In the present study, we describe regional variation in avian community composition at the southern extent of the boreal zone. Boreal bird communities are disproportionally influenced by ongoing climate change and contain several declining species. Here we observe the habitat associations for 13 boreal bird species, and assess the link between species' habitat associations and community composition. We conducted standardized point counts at 20 boreal forest sites in northeastern United States and Canada, and quantified the vegetation structure and composition as well as the climate at each site. We found large variation in the habitat associations among co-distributed boreal birds, both in terms of the specific variables important for each species and in the breadth of habitat types occupied. These findings suggest that species within this community will vary in their responses to environmental change, potentially resulting in changes to the boreal avian community.
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