A comprehensive approach to identifying monitoring priorities of small landbirds on military installations

Donald P. Althoff, James W. Rivers, Jeffrey S. Pontius, Philip S. Gipson, Philip B. Woodford

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

15 Scopus citations

Abstract

Military installations provide important native habitat for songbirds, including many species that have experienced population declines in recent decades. As part of the Land Condition Trend Analysis (LCTA) program to monitor animal populations on military lands, we surveyed small (<250 g) breeding landbirds on 60 permanent plots on the Fort Riley Military Installation in northeastern Kansas from 1991 to 2002. During this period, species richness averaged 39.0 species (SE 0.9)/year and mean species richness per plot ranged from 3.6 species (SE = 0.2)/plot (1999) to 7.5 species (SE = 0.3)/plot (1992). Turnover (the appearance and disappearance of species on all plots from one year to the next) ranged from 5 species (2000-2001) to 16 species (1992-1993) and was driven primarily by turnover of woodland species. We developed an index of relative difference (C) to evaluate relative trends of local populations and found that 25 species declined 15 species increased, and 7 did not change. Based on migration assemblages, more resident species (6 of 10) and more short-distant migrants (9 of 12) decreased than long-distance migrants (10 vs. 11). Our analysis of major vegetation communities on plots showed few changes in the quantity of habitats (grassland vs. woodlands) during the study. Our results indicate that Fort Riley provides important habitats for many landbirds, particularly those that require grasslands for breeding. Several species exhibited local declines when compared to the regional Breeding Bird Survey routes. We offer an approach that evaluates population changes of small landbirds and provides objective inputs for conservation directives. These can be adopted easily for use on military installations (that use LCTA), parks, and wildlife refuges that have data from annual breeding bird surveys.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)887-902
Number of pages16
JournalEnvironmental Management
Volume34
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2004

Keywords

  • Index of relative difference
  • LCTA
  • Landbirds
  • Military installations
  • Population monitoring
  • Species richness

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