A comparison of bird communities in burned and salvage-logged, clearcut, and forested Florida Sand Pine scrub.
We hypothesized that similar bird assemblages will occur in like-structured habitat that results from both clearcutting and high-intensity wildfire followed by salvage logging. To test this, we compared bird communities of sand pine scrub in mature forest and three disturbance treatments (1) high-intensity wildfire, salvage logged, and naturally regenerated, (2) clearcut, roller chopped, and broadcast seeded, and (3) clearcut and brackeseeded. We analyzed communities based on residency status and nesting guilds. Migratory breeding birds were nearly restricted to mature forest. Bird communities of mature forest were significantly more species rich and diverse than those of disturbance treatments in spring. However, species richness and diversity of migratory winter residents did not differ among treatments, indicating that they are habitat-structure generalists on their wintering grounds. Canopy- and cavity-nesters and canopy- and bark-foraging species were virtually restricted to mature forest. Most species recorded in mature sand pine forest or disturbance treatments were either habitat-structure generalists or also occurred in other similarly structured vegetation types. However, the threatened and endemic Florida Scrub Jay (Aphelocoma c. coerulescens) occurred only in disturbance treatments (no differences). Silvicultural disturbance appears to mimic the natural high-intensity disturbance regime by creating habitat structural features required by open scrub species and may be an important habitat management tool where the use of wildfire is impractical. However, long-term effects, unsalvaged burns, and landscape patterns created by clearcutting were not addressed and may also be important in structuring bird communities of sand pine scrub.