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1.  Avian Species Richness in Relation to Intensive Forest Management Practices in Early Seral Tree Plantations 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(8):e43290.
Managers of landscapes dedicated to forest commodity production require information about how practices influence biological diversity. Individual species and communities may be threatened if management practices truncate or simplify forest age classes that are essential for reproduction and survival. For instance, the degradation and loss of complex diverse forest in young age classes have been associated with declines in forest-associated Neotropical migrant bird populations in the Pacific Northwest, USA. These declines may be exacerbated by intensive forest management practices that reduce hardwood and broadleaf shrub cover in order to promote growth of economically valuable tree species in plantations.
Methodology and Principal Findings
We used a Bayesian hierarchical model to evaluate relationships between avian species richness and vegetation variables that reflect stand management intensity (primarily via herbicide application) on 212 tree plantations in the Coast Range, Oregon, USA. Specifically, we estimated the influence of broadleaf hardwood vegetation cover, which is reduced through herbicide applications, on bird species richness and individual species occupancy. Our model accounted for imperfect detection. We used average predictive comparisons to quantify the degree of association between vegetation variables and species richness. Both conifer and hardwood cover were positively associated with total species richness, suggesting that these components of forest stand composition may be important predictors of alpha diversity. Estimates of species richness were 35–80% lower when imperfect detection was ignored (depending on covariate values), a result that has critical implications for previous efforts that have examined relationships between forest composition and species richness.
Conclusion and Significance
Our results revealed that individual and community responses were positively associated with both conifer and hardwood cover. In our system, patterns of bird community assembly appear to be associated with stand management strategies that retain or increase hardwood vegetation while simultaneously regenerating the conifer cover in commercial tree plantations.
PMCID: PMC3419709  PMID: 22905249
2.  Mapping Migratory Bird Prevalence Using Remote Sensing Data Fusion 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(1):e28922.
Improved maps of species distributions are important for effective management of wildlife under increasing anthropogenic pressures. Recent advances in lidar and radar remote sensing have shown considerable potential for mapping forest structure and habitat characteristics across landscapes. However, their relative efficacies and integrated use in habitat mapping remain largely unexplored. We evaluated the use of lidar, radar and multispectral remote sensing data in predicting multi-year bird detections or prevalence for 8 migratory songbird species in the unfragmented temperate deciduous forests of New Hampshire, USA.
Methodology and Principal Findings
A set of 104 predictor variables describing vegetation vertical structure and variability from lidar, phenology from multispectral data and backscatter properties from radar data were derived. We tested the accuracies of these variables in predicting prevalence using Random Forests regression models. All data sets showed more than 30% predictive power with radar models having the lowest and multi-sensor synergy (“fusion”) models having highest accuracies. Fusion explained between 54% and 75% variance in prevalence for all the birds considered. Stem density from discrete return lidar and phenology from multispectral data were among the best predictors. Further analysis revealed different relationships between the remote sensing metrics and bird prevalence. Spatial maps of prevalence were consistent with known habitat preferences for the bird species.
Conclusion and Significance
Our results highlight the potential of integrating multiple remote sensing data sets using machine-learning methods to improve habitat mapping. Multi-dimensional habitat structure maps such as those generated from this study can significantly advance forest management and ecological research by facilitating fine-scale studies at both stand and landscape level.
PMCID: PMC3250393  PMID: 22235254
3.  Tropical deforestation alters hummingbird movement patterns 
Biology Letters  2009;5(2):207-210.
Reduced pollination success, as a function of habitat loss and fragmentation, appears to be a global phenomenon. Disruption of pollinator movement is one hypothesis put forward to explain this pattern in pollen limitation. However, the small size of pollinators makes them very difficult to track; thus, knowledge of their movements is largely speculative. Using tiny radio transmitters (0.25 g), we translocated a generalist tropical ‘trap-lining’ hummingbird, the green hermit (Phaethornis guy), across agricultural and forested landscapes to test the hypothesis that movement is influenced by patterns of deforestation. Although, we found no difference in homing times between landscape types, return paths were on average 459±144 m (±s.e.) more direct in forested than agricultural landscapes. In addition, movement paths in agricultural landscapes contained 36±4 per cent more forest than the most direct route. Our findings suggest that this species can circumvent agricultural matrix to move among forest patches. Nevertheless, it is clear that movement of even a highly mobile species is strongly influenced by landscape disturbance. Maintaining landscape connectivity with forest corridors may be important for enhancing movement, and thus in facilitating pollen transfer.
PMCID: PMC2665823  PMID: 19158031
animal movement; translocation; connectivity; pollination; ecosystem services
4.  Social information trumps vegetation structure in breeding-site selection by a migrant songbird 
To maximize fitness, organisms must assess and select suitable habitat. Early research studying birds suggested that organisms consider primarily vegetation structural cues in their habitat choices. We show that experimental exposure to singing in the post-breeding period provides a social cue that is used for habitat selection the following year by a migrant songbird, the black-throated blue warbler (Dendroica caerulescens). Our experimental social cues coerced individuals to adopt territories in areas of very poor habitat quality where individuals typically do not occur. This indicates that social information can override typical associations with vegetation structure. We demonstrate that a strong settlement response was elicited because post-breeding song at a site is highly correlated with reproductive success. These results constitute a previously undocumented, but highly parsimonious mechanism for the inadvertent transfer of reproductive (public) information from successful breeders to dispersers. We hypothesize that post-breeding song is a pervasive and reliable cue for species that communicate vocally, inhabit temporally autocorrelated environments, produce young asynchronously and/or abandon territories after reproductive failure.
PMCID: PMC2603235  PMID: 18559326
habitat selection; location cues; social information; vegetation structure; dispersal; prospecting

Results 1-4 (4)