Small isolated aspen stands enrich bird communities in southwestern ponderosa pine forests

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Small aspen stands are disappearing from the landscape in the Southwest, so it is important to understand their contribution to the avian community. We sampled birds in 53 small, isolated aspen stands and 53 paired plots within the ponderosa pine forest in northern Arizona, during the 1996 and 1997 breeding seasons. Bird species richness and abundance were higher in aspen than in pine. However, bird species richness and abundance did not vary with size of the aspen patch or isolation index. In addition, direct ordination of species distributions with habitat factors suggested no distinct avian communities. This suggests that aspen stands do not harbor separate populations, but rather are locations where the regional avifauna reaches high local density and richness and may be crucial to birds in years of resource scarcity. Thus it is important for avian conservation to maintain many aspen stands across the landscape, encompassing a diversity of vegetation structure and composition.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)375-385
Number of pages11
JournalBiological Conservation
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 2003


  • Area
  • Birds
  • Habitat
  • Isolation
  • Pinus ponderosa
  • Populus tremuloides


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