Snag characteristics and cavity-nesting birds in the unmanaged post-fire northeastern Canadian boreal forest
Lowe J., Pothier D., Savard J.-P.L., Rompré G., Bouchard M. (2011). Snag characteristics and cavity-nesting birds in the unmanaged post-fire northeastern Canadian boreal forest. Silva Fennica vol. 45 no. 1 article id 31. https://doi.org/10.14214/sf.31
We studied the availability and characteristics of snags and their use by cavity-nesting birds in the northeastern part of the Canadian boreal forest. We built up two long-term (> 200 years) chronosequences following time since the last fire in the unmanaged boreal forest of northeastern Québec, one in the balsam fir-white birch domain (southern region) and one in the spruce-mosses domain (northern region). We then sampled and characterized snags and live trees in 30 stands from each of these two chronosequences. We also looked for nest cavities on all sampled snags, performed bird inventories by point counts, and calculated tree mortality rate from permanent sample plots. Results show that mortality rates follow a U-shaped pattern, with more snags of large diameter (> 20 cm DBH) in young (< 50 years) and in old (> 200 years) forests. In the latter, we also found more nest cavities than in any other age classes. Although abundance of primary cavity nesters (excavating species) did not vary among age classes, secondary cavity nesters (using cavities already available) tend to be more numerous in older forests. Our results highlight the capacity for young and old-growth forests to provide quality habitat for species that are dependent on large snags. Proper forest management should maintain a mosaic of different age forest stands, including snags, to promote biodiversity and provide important resources for resident bird species.
Received 2 August 2010 Accepted 4 January 2011 Published 31 December 2011