LIfe history characteristics and the landscape ecology of breeding birds in Michigan forests

TitleLIfe history characteristics and the landscape ecology of breeding birds in Michigan forests
Publication TypeThesis
Year of Publication1995
AuthorsDietsch TV
Academic DepartmentSchool of Natural Resources and Environment
DegreeMaster of Science
Number of Pages53 pp.
UniversityUniversity of Michigan
CityAnn Arbor, MI

This study used a hierarchical landscape ecological classification produced by the UMBS landscape ecosystem mapping project in conjunction with protocols from the national Breeding Biology Research and Monitoring Database program to assess whether differences in the abundances of breeding birds in northern Michigan could be detected at two scales: landforms and local landscape ecosystems. In addition, nests were located and monitored to determine productivity and survivability. These productivity data were analyzed for spatial and temporal variation. I found that the relative abundances of birds, particularly neotropical migrants, exhibited more significant differences between landforms (i.e., an Outwash-upland landform [Upland], and an Outwash-lakeplain landform [Swamp]) than among the smaller local landscape ecosystems (e.g., Outwash-lake plain conifer-hardwood swamp: semi-permanently inundated). This suggests that relatively large landscape elements may be influencing the distributions of many breeding bird species more than smaller elements. Additionally, total species richness and warbler species richness were signficantly higher in the Swamp than in the Upland. Life history information is reported for several species of ground-nesting neotropical migrants. No differences in productivity were found among nesting substrates. The productivity of species (number of fledglings per nesting attempt) was significantly different between the two landorms and between 1994 and 1995. However, there was only one instance out of 20 successful nests of the partial brood mortality during the nestling period, which may result from starvation. Based on these latter two results and because a nest predator (i.e., Blue Jay) and a brood parasite (i.e., Brown-headed Cowbird) were more common in one landform than the other, this study suggests that predator-prey/host-parasite interactions may contribute more strongly to population dynamics than food availability for birds breeding in northern Michigan forests.