Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: Massachusetts
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Massachusetts Project

Optimal Habitat Configuration for Mature-Forest and Scrub-Shrub Birds

August 2009 - October 2010


Participating Agencies

  • Quick Response

Declines in populations of mature-forest and scrub-shrub birds have caused concern among managers (King et al. 2006a, Schlossberg and King 2007). Managers have long assumed that promoting either mature-forest or scrub-shrub bird groups involves a direct tradeoff, i.e., managing against the other group. However, recent research indicates otherwise. Early-successional habitat has been shown to benefit forest-interior birds during the post-breeding period (when adults molt) and the post-fledging period, when young birds have left the nest but are still dependent on their parents. Post-fledging birds suffer high mortality, which significantly impacts population dynamics (King et al. 2006b). The habitat needs of many forest-interior bird species apparently switch between the nesting and post-fledging periods (King et al. 2006b). Many post-breeding forest birds use scrub-shrub habitats and some appear to prefer that habitat over mature forest (Chandler et al. In Prep b). Depending on scale and configuration, the positive effects of scrub-shrub habitat availability on survival rates of forest-interior birds�fledglings and post-breeding adults�likely outweigh the relatively minor negative effects on nesting success, especially when renesting rates are considered