Breeding Bird Response to Forest Management in the First 25 Years of the MOFEP Experiment

by

Paul A. Porneluzi, Andrew D. George, Dana L. Morris, Janet Haslerig, and John Faaborg

Professor (PP), Division of Science and Mathematics, Central Methodist College, Fayette, MO 65248, Post-Doctoral Associate (ADG), Division of Biological Sciences, University of Missouri-Columbia, Columbia, MO 65211, Assistant Professor (DLM), Division of Science and Mathematics, Central Methodist College, Fayette, MO 65248, Resource Scientist (JH), Missouri Department of Conservation, 3500 East Gans Road, Columbia, MO 65201, Professor (JF) Division of Biological Sciences, University of Missouri-Columbia, Columbia, MO 65211

Abstract – Through the Missouri Ozark Forest Ecosystem Project (MOFEP), we have been able to experimentally measure the effects of three alternative silviculture prescriptions on breeding forest bird density, nest success and incidence of brood parasitism. The study is conducted on nine large sites (mean area = 400 ha) randomly assigned to receive even-aged, uneven-aged, or no-harvest management. Five years of pre-treatment results showed stable populations of birds that breed in mature forest. Among mature forest bird species, density declined following the first harvest entry on all treatments, including the no-harvest prescription, and remained 35% lower 14 years after harvest. Responses to the harvest treatments varied among the mature forest species. Early successional species density increased from near zero on all sites prior to the first harvest to very high densities on even-aged and uneven-aged sites following harvests. After peaking within six years of harvest, densities of early-successional species gradually decreased to near pre-harvest levels. Nest-survival and brood parasitism did not change over time or with forest management. Although forest management had variable effects on species, we suggest a modified version of even-aged management could maximize benefits to early-successional species while minimizing decreases in mature forest bird species in central hardwood forests. Rather than the current prescription to harvest 10-15% of the mature stands every 15 years, we recommend harvesting approximately half the number of mature stands with a shorter re-entry period of 8-10 years.