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

Montana Wildlife Project

Understanding the influence of landscape context and conifer encroachment of aspen habitats on songbird utilization and reproductive success

March 2009 - May 2015


Participating Agencies

  • The Bair Ranch Foundation

Aspen is a critical habitat for wildlife but is rare and declining habitat in general and recognized as such throughout Western North America and the inter-mountain region. We will conduct intensive (nest success) monitoring of song bird use of aspen habitats on Bair Foundation lands and adjacent Federal and private lands to identify landscape and forest conditions that enhance diversity and reproductive success of songbirds. Concurrent studies will also occur on Fish, Wildlife and Parks management areas for additional habitat comparisons. We will focus on landscape context (slope, aspect, embedded in conifer forest vs grassland, edge of conifer forest and grassland), and aspen stand configuration (patch size, aspen tree sizes, conifer component, vegetation composition/density) to identify aspen conditions that optimize bird diversity and reproductive success. We will establish about 10 study plots of about 25 acres each in aspen stands that vary in conifer encroachment, and landscape context. We will examine overall nesting success of all bird species in these aspen stands and will simultaneously examine habitat features associated with successful nesting of individual species. We will develop predictive models of habitat features at nest patch (5 m radius) and forest stand scales that enhance reproductive success. We also will examine the conditions under which aspen regeneration is enhanced. By identifying the habitat features and relative importance of aspen stands of greatest benefits to nongame birds, we can provide clear guidance for land management for prioritizing restoration and preservation efforts.

Research Publications Publication Date
LaManna, J. A., and T. E. Martin. 2017. Seasonal fecundity and consequences for λ are more strongly affected by direct than indirect predation effects across species. Ecology 98: 1829–1838 May 2017
LaManna, J. A., and T. E. Martin. 2017. Logging impacts on avian species richness and composition differ across latitudes and foraging and breeding habitat preferences. Biological Reviews 92: 1657-1674. August 2017
LaManna, J. A., and T. E. Martin. 2015. Costs of fear: Behavioural and life-history responses to risk and their demographic consequences vary across species. Ecology Letters 19: 403–413. | Abstract January 2016
LaManna, J. A., A. B. Hemenway, V. Boccadori, and T. E. Martin. 2015. Bird species turnover is related to changing predation risk along a vegetation gradient. Ecology 96: 1670-1680. | Abstract June 2015
Theses and Dissertations Publication Date
LaManna, J. A. 2015. Predation risk and vegetation effects on avidan diversity, species turnover, reproduction and fitness. PhD degree, University of Montana. 182 pages May 2015