Effects of fuel reduction treatments on avian nest density in the upper piedmont of South Carolina
The Fire and Fire Surrogate Study is a national study installed at 13 sites across the United States. One goal of the southeastern Piedmont FFS installation was to assess the effects of fuel reduction treatments such as prescribed burning and thinning on avian nest density. Nest searching and monitoring took place within twelve 10-hectare study plots during the breeding seasons of 2003 and 2004. A total of 82 nests representing 23 species were discovered and monitored. Seventy-two percent of those nests were successful in fledging young and 28% failed. Higher quantities of herbaceous material, shrubs, and small diameter trees provided more nesting substrate in Thin/Burn and Burn plots. This study suggests that prescribed burning and a combination of prescribed burning and thinning may be beneficial for Southern Piedmont bird communities, but our conclusions must be considered in light of the small sample sizes of nests. Increasing the area of upland Piedmont forest receiving prescribed burning and thinning treatments could possibly benefit early successional species that are presently experiencing population declines across the United States.