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Short- and long-term implications of clearcut and two-age silviculture for conservation of breeding forest birds in the central Appalachians, USA

, : Short- and long-term implications of clearcut and two-age silviculture for conservation of breeding forest birds in the central Appalachians, USA. Biological Conservation 142.1

Two-age (deferment or leave tree) harvesting is used increasingly in even-aged forest management, but long-term responses of breeding avifauna to retention of residual canopy trees have not been investigated. Breeding bird surveys completed in 1994-1996 in two-age and clearcut harvests in the central Appalachian Mountains of West Virginia, USA allowed us to document long-term changes in these stands. In 2005 and 2006, we conducted point counts in mature unharvested forest stands and in 19-26 year-old clearcut and two-age harvests from the original study and in younger clearcut and two-age stands (6-10 years old). We found differences in breeding bird metrics among these five treatments and temporal differences in the original stands. Although early-successional species are typically absent from group selection cuts, they were almost as common in young two-age stands as clearcuts, supporting two-age harvests as an alternative to clearcutting. Although older harvests had lower species richness and diversity, they were beginning to provide habitat for some species of late-successional forest songbirds that were absent or uncommon in young harvests. overall, late-successional forest-interior species were more flexible in their use of different seral stages; several species used both age classes and harvest types in addition to mature forest, which may reflect the lack of edges in our heavily-forested landscape. Consequently, two-age management provides habitat for a diverse group of species as these stands mature and may be an ecologically sustainable alternative to clearcutting in landscapes where brown-headed cowbirds (Molothrus ater) are uncommon.


DOI: 10.1016/j.biocon.2008.10.016

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