Songbird nest success is positively related to restoration of pine–oak savanna and woodland in the Ozark Highlands, Missouri, USA
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Savanna and woodland are transitional vegetation communities that have largely disappeared while many earlysuccessional bird species have simultaneously declined in abundance. Pine savanna and woodland are being restored in the Midwest through prescribed fire and tree thinning to create their characteristic open canopy, dense ground layer, and variable shrub cover. Ideally, these restoration strategies for vegetation should also facilitate bird conservation objectives. We determined daily nest survival (DSR) for 6 songbird species, representing both shrubnesting and canopy-nesting species, in southern Missouri, USA, in 2014 and 2015. We evaluated support for hypotheses relating temporal, vegetation, and management factors to DSR. We predicted that nest survival of the 3 shrub-nesting species (Eastern Towhee [Pipilo erythrophthalmus], Yellow-breasted Chat [Icteria virens], and Prairie Warbler [Setophaga discolor]) would show positive relationships with thinning and fire, but only Yellow-breasted Chat DSR was positively related to tree thinning. However, pooling species into a shrub-nesting guild resulted in a positive relationship of nest survival with tree thinning and a weak relationship with fire. For canopy-nesters, Eastern Wood- Pewee (Contopus virens) and Summer Tanager (Piranga rubra) DSR was negatively related to mean canopy cover, and Pine Warbler (Setophaga pinus) DSR was weakly related to tree density by size class. The canopy-nesting guild had higher DSR in thinned areas with lower basal area and less canopy cover. Our results demonstrate that pine savanna– woodland restoration in Missouri is providing high-quality breeding habitat for both shrub-nesting and canopynesting species, some of which are species of conservation concern.
Keywordsnest success; management; savanna–woodland; restoration; early-successional; prescribed fire; thinning; canopy cover
Roach, Melissa C.; Thompson, Frank R.; Jones-Farrand, Todd. 2018. Songbird nest success is positively related to restoration of pine–oak savanna and woodland in the Ozark Highlands, Missouri, USA. The Condor. 120(3): 543-556. https://doi.org/10.1650/CONDOR-17-189.1.