Influence of within-plantation heterogeneity and surrounding landscape composition on avian communities in hybrid poplar plantations

Joann M. Hanowski, Gerald J Niemi, Donald C. Ghristian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

78 Scopus citations


We conducted breeding bird surveys in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and South Dakota in 12 hybrid poplar plantations and surrounding landscapes from 1992 to 1994. Plantations varied in age, shape, composition of surrounding landscape, and internal vegetative heterogeneity. Numbers of breeding bird individuals and species in plantations were lower than in surrounding forest/shrub habitat, but higher than in row crops. Numbers of individuals observed within several bird groups based on migratory status and habitat preference also differed among plantations and surrounding land-use types. Most differences were between numbers in plantations and row crops. Year-to-year changes in bird species composition in plantations were more likely in plantations between ages 2 and 4 years than in younger or older plantations. Correlative evidence from canonical correspondence analysis illustrated that plantation bird communities were related to habitat in surrounding landscapes, plantation age, size, latitude, and longitude. Additionally, more heterogeneous plantations had more species, individuals, and numbers of long-distance migrants. Plantations will likely not support bird communities that are comparable to natural forests in either species composition or species diversity. A goal would be to position them in the landscape to minimize impacts on regional biodiversity. This could be accomplished by maintaining structural diversity of plantations by creating a broad range of successional stages (ages) throughout plantations within a region. Size and connectivity of existing forest fragments may be increased by plantations, but fragmentation of natural open areas should be avoided.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)936-944
Number of pages9
JournalConservation Biology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1997


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