Landbird community composition varies among seasons in a heterogeneous ponderosa pine forest

Catherine S. Wightman, Stephen S. Germaine, Paul Beier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


There is growing recognition of the need to conserve areas used by birds during migration, including forest and upland habitats. Because extensive thinning and burning treatments are planned for ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) forests in the southwestern United States, information on the use of these forests by landbirds during migration is needed for conservation planning. We compared species richness among spring, breeding, and fall seasons at 69 points in a ponderosa pine forest to assess changes in landbird communities and the role of different ponderosa pine cover types in habitat selection among seasons. We detected a total of 64 bird species. Bird community similarity was lowest between the breeding and fall seasons and highest between the spring and breeding seasons. Twenty percent of the species detected were present exclusively in the fall and, of these, over half were Neotropical migrants. Only two species (3%) were detected exclusively during the spring. Although we found little difference in bird species similarity among vegetative cover types during the breeding season, forests that contained a deciduous component exhibited higher bird species similarity with each other than with habitats that did not include a deciduous component in spring and fall. In addition, foliage foragers dominated the community in spring and fall, and all Neotropical migrants detected exclusively in fall were found in ponderosa pine forests with a deciduous component. Our results indicate that ponderosa pine forests may be important to migrating or dispersing landbirds in autumn, especially if there is a deciduous component.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)184-194
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Field Ornithology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2007


  • Interseasonal variation
  • Landbird communities
  • Migration ecology
  • Pinus ponderosa
  • Ponderosa pine
  • Species richness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


Dive into the research topics of 'Landbird community composition varies among seasons in a heterogeneous ponderosa pine forest'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this