Avian Use of Suburban Greenways as Stopover Habitat

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Title: Avian Use of Suburban Greenways as Stopover Habitat
Author: Kohut, Salina M.
Advisors: George R. Hess, Committee Co-Chair
Christopher E. Moorman, Committee Co-Chair
Theodore R. Simons, Committee Member
Abstract: The decline of Neotropical migrant songbirds has called attention to the need for habitat conservation along the entire migratory route, and scientists now recognize the need to conserve stopover habitat in addition to habitat on the breeding and wintering grounds. Greenways are a popular means for accomplishing conservation goals in suburban areas and might provide stopover habitat in urbanizing areas where habitat loss and alteration are accelerating. My study examined the effects of greenway forested corridor width, greenway vegetative characteristics, and adjacent land cover on the species richness and abundance of migrant songbirds during spring and fall migration. I conducted the study to provide city planners with management recommendations for the construction and maintenance of greenways that will benefit migrating songbirds. During spring and fall migration, 2004, and spring migration, 2005, I surveyed birds in 47 segments of public greenway in Raleigh and Cary, North Carolina, USA representing a range of forested corridor widths and adjacent land covers. I also surveyed three reference sites along trails in William B. Umstead State Park, the largest contiguous forested area (2,201-hectares) nearest the study greenways. Migrant species richness was higher in wider greenways in both spring and fall. During spring migration, migrant bird richness and abundance generally increased with tree height and percent hardwood tree composition, and abundance was greater in greenways with more shrub cover. During fall migration, migrants occurred most commonly in greenways with lower canopy cover and higher shrub cover. Although forest-interior migrant richness was not correlated with greenway forest corridor width in either season, they were more abundant in the reference sites than in the greenways during spring and fall. During spring, forest interior migrants were less common in greenways surrounded by more bare earth and pavement cover, both signs of intense development. Though migrants used greenways of all widths, forested corridors wider than 150 m had the greatest overall diversity and abundance of migrants. Therefore, planners should conserve the widest greenway corridors possible. Shrub and ground cover should be retained within the greenway to provide the complex vegetative structure that migrants use. In urbanizing areas, planners can provide stopover habitat for forest-interior migrants by constructing greenways in areas of lower development intensity and by conserving larger parks or reserves in addition to greenways.
Date: 2007-07-31
Degree: MS
Discipline: Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences
URI: http://www.lib.ncsu.edu/resolver/1840.16/2726

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