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Bayesian N-mixture and occupancy modeling code for songbirds

Citation

Margenau, Eric; Rota, Christopher; Wood, Petra (2021), Bayesian N-mixture and occupancy modeling code for songbirds, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.gb5mkkwqr

Abstract

The proliferation of energy rights-of-way (pipelines and powerlines; ROWs) in the central Appalachian region has prompted wildlife management agencies to consider ways to use these features to manage and conserve at-risk songbird species. However, little empirical evidence exists regarding best management strategies to enhance habitat surrounding ROWs for the songbird community during stopover or breeding periods. We used a before-after-control-impact design to study cut-back border (linear tree cuttings along abrupt forest edges) harvest width (15 m, 30 m, and 45 m wide into the forest) and harvest intensity (14 m2/ha and 4.5 m2/ha basal area retention) prescriptions along ROWs and assessed their effects on mature forest and young forest songbird species and avian guilds (forest gap habitat, forest interior habitat, young forest habitat, and species of regional conservation priority) up to two years after treatment throughout West Virginia. Species richness during the spring stopover period initially decreased at one-year post-treatment but returned to pre-treatment levels by two-year post-treatment. Breeding season responses to cut-back border treatments varied across harvest width, harvest intensity, and time, but all responses of focal species abundance and guild richness were neutral or positive. Cut-back border harvest intensity had a stronger influence (i.e., more positive responses) than harvest width on breeding focal species abundances and guild richness. For harvest intensity, the more intense, 4.5 m2/ha retention treatment had a stronger influence (i.e., more positive responses) than the less intense, 14 m2/ha retention treatment. For harvest width, the narrowest treatment (15-m wide) had the strongest influence (i.e., more positive responses) of all width treatments, followed by the widest (45-m wide treatment) with the least influence from the 30-m wide treatment. Abundances and richness increased from pre-treatment to two-year post-treatment across all species and guilds that exhibited a response. These results suggest that cut-back borders increase breeding season habitat suitability along ROWs for the mature forest and young forest songbird community as well as for species of regional conservation priority in the short-term. These findings can aid development of management guidelines for the forest songbird community along abrupt forest edges of man-made habitat features in forest-dominated landscapes.