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Bird use of forest patches in the subalpine forest alpine tundra ecotone of the beartooth mountains wyoming usa


, : Bird use of forest patches in the subalpine forest alpine tundra ecotone of the beartooth mountains wyoming usa. Northwest Science 65(1): 1-9

Relationships of bird species richness and abundance during the breeding season with forest area and edge were studied for ten forest patches in the subalpine forest-alpine tundra ecotone of the Beartooth Mountains, Wyoming. Species richness correlated equally well with area and edge, whereas mean number of individuals (abundance) correlated best with area. Among species that differed in their foraging habitats, species richness and abundance of those most restricted to foraging within forest habitat showed the best correlation with area. Species that foraged mostly in surrounding meadows and those that used both forest and meadow habitats correlated better with edge than with area. Forest patches of intermediate size surrounded by meadow habitat had greater number of individuals per census than either smaller patches or a larger plot within a continuous forest stand. Number of species in intermediate-sized patches was greater in smaller patches, and approximately equal to that in the continuous forest stand. These results are attributed to the combined presence of edge habitat from which birds may forage into surrounding meadow and sufficient forest habitat for those species restricted to foraging within forest. Patterns of species distribution, importance of edge, and changes in avian community composition across the range of forest patches studied tentatively suggest that some predictions developed from the study of bird communities in forest fragments created by human disturbance may not be applicable to communities in naturally occurring forest patches in western montane coniferous forests.

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