The effects of fire suppression on Bachman's sparrows in upland pine forests of eastern Texas

Abstract

We studied the effects of 8 years of fire suppression on shrub-level vegetation, Bachman's Sparrows (Aimophila aestivalis), and selected forest bird species between 1995 and 2003in eastern Texas. Woody shrub-level vegetation between ground level and 3 m above the ground, measured using a leaf area index, increased significantly in all sites !n = 20) previously managed for Red-cockaded Woodpeckers (Picaidesborectlis) in both longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) and loblolly- (P. taeda) shortleaf (P. echinata) pine habitats. Woody shrub-level vegetation between ground level and 3 m also increased significantly in one-half of control sites (n = 20). During the 8 years, Bachman's Sparrow abundance decreased significantly in habitat management areas previously managed for Red-cockaded Woodpeckers. Brown-headed Nuthatches (Sina pusilla), Indigo Bunting (Passerina cyanea) and Red-cockaded Woodpeckers also decreased in abundance, but this decrease was not statistically significant. Slight increases or no changes were observed for Northern Cardinals (Cardinalis cardinalis), Carolina Wrens (Thryothorus ludovicianus), Hooded Warblers (Wilsonia citrina), Yellowbreasted Chats (Icteria virens), and White-eyed Vireos (Vireo griseus).These species generally are considered associates of woody shrub-level vegetation in both woodpecker and control sites.

  • Citation: Conner, Richard N.; Shackelford, Clifford E.; Schaefer, Richard R.; Saenz, Daniel. 2005. The effects of fire suppression on Bachman's sparrows in upland pine forests of eastern Texas. Bulletin of the Texas Ornithological Society. 38(1): 6-11.

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