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Title: An evaluation of powerline rights-of-way as habitat for early-successional shrubland birds

Author: King, David I.; Byers, Bruce E.

Year: 2002

Publication: Wildlife Society Bulletin 30(3):868-874

Abstract: Recent population declines among bird species that breed in early-successional shrubland habitats in the eastern United States have been associated with declines in habitat availability. Forest succession has eliminated shrublands in many locations, but powerline rights-of-way constitute a potential reservoir of shrubland habitat for birds. We studied 2 populations of an early-successional shrubland bird, the chestnut-sided warbler (Dendroica pensylvanica), in powerline rights-of-way in western Massachusetts over five breeding seasons to evaluate the potential conservation value of these habitats. Our goals were to l) measure reproductive success and adult survival of birds nesting in powerline rights-of-way, 2) test for edge-related increases in nest predation that might compromise the health of bird populations in powerline rights-of-way, and 3) evaluate whether reproductive success and adult survival rates of birds nesting in powerline rights-of-way were sufficient to maintain these populations. Our results indicated that nesting and fledging success in these populations were high, but nest success was marginally lower (P=0.09) near edges in 1 of 2 years for which distances from nests to edge were measured. Also, reproductive success and adult survival were sufficient at both sites to balance losses from mortality, suggesting that powerline rights-of-way can support populations of early-successional shrubland birds.

Last Modified: 1/16/2009


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