Importance of Coarse Woody Debris to Avian Communities in Loblolly Pine Forests
To investigate the importance of standing (snags) aud down course woody debris (DCWD)) to bird communities in loblolly pine (Pinus taeda) forests, we compared breeding (1997-1999) und nonbreeding (1997- 1998, 1998-1999) responses of birds among two course woody debris (CWD) removal and control treatments. In each of four blocks, we estahblished four experirmental units: (1) DCWD removed, (2) snags und DCWD removed, and (3) and (4) unmodified control plots. We quantified vegetation layers to determine their effects on the experimental outcome. Total breeding bird abundunce, abundunce of resident species, breeding bird diversity, breeding species richness, and abundance of Great Crested Hycatchers (Myidrchus crinitus) were reduced by the removal of DCWD and snugs. Total woodpecker and Carolina Wren (Thryothorus ludovicianus) breeding territories were reduced by snug removal. Weak excavating and secondury cavity-nesting species, Neotropical migrants, and Eastern Towhees (Pipilio erythrophthalmus) bud fewer breeding territories on plots where DCWD was removed. Red-headed Woodpeckers (Melenerpes erythrocephalus) and midstory and canopy-nesting species were at lowest densities on plots where all CWD had been removed, The CWD removal had no effect on the nonbreeding bird community. Most breeding and nonbreeding species used habitats with sparse midstory und well-developed understory, whereus sparse canopy cover and dense midstory were importunt to some nonbreeding species. Snag and DCWD retention, and practices that maintain a dense understory and sparse midstory and canopy, will create fuavorable breeding hahitat bird species of loblolly pine forests.