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Providing evidence to improve practice

Individual study: Impact of fuel reduction on black-chinned hummingbirds Archilochus alexandri nesting in riparian forest along the Middle Rio Grande, New Mexico, USA

Published source details

Smith D.M., Finch D.M. & Hawksworth D.L. (2009) Black-chinned hummingbird nest-site selection and nest survival in response to fuel reduction in a southwestern riparian forest. The Condor, 111, 641-652


This study is summarised as evidence for the intervention(s) shown on the right. The icon shows which synopsis it is relevant to.

Replace non-native species of tree/shrub Bird Conservation

A replicated, controlled study in riparian forest along the Middle Rio Grande, New Mexico, USA, in 2002-2004 (Smith et al. 2009), found an 8% increase in the number of black-chinned hummingbird Archilochus alexandri nests (from 75 to 81) on three sites where native shrubs were planted after fuel reduction measures. Exotic shrubs and woody debris were removed and chipped before herbicide was applied to the root crowns of exotic species. This compared with an 18% increase at four sites with fuel reduction but no planting and a 42% decrease at two sites where debris was burned and no shrubs planted. These results are discussed in more detail in ‘Manually control/remove understorey and midstorey vegetation’ and ‘Use prescribed burning’.

 

Remove coarse woody debris from forests Bird Conservation

A replicated, controlled before-and-after study in riparian forest along the Middle Rio Grande, New Mexico, USA (Smith et al. 2009), found that black-chinned hummingbird Archilochus alexandri nest survival was lower after fuel reduction treatments, including the removal of coarse woody debris from forests, but was no lower in control plots. There were, however, population increases at sites with debris removal, compared to burned or control plots. This study is discussed in detail in ‘Manually control or remove understorey and midstorey vegetation’, ‘Plant native shrubs following fuel reduction’ and ‘Use prescribed burning’.

 

Use prescribed burning on deciduous forests Bird Conservation

A replicated, controlled study in riparian forest along the Middle Rio Grande, New Mexico, USA, in 2002-2004 (Smith et al. 2009), found a 62% reduction in the number of black-chinned hummingbird Archilochus alexandri nests (from 42 to 16) on two sites where exotic shrubs and woody debris were cut and burned before herbicide was applied to the root crowns of exotic species. This compared with 8-18% increases at sites with fuel reduction treatments that did not involve burning. These results are discussed in more detail in ‘Control/remove understorey and midstorey vegetation’ and ‘Plant native shrubs following fuel reduction’.

 

Apply herbicide to mid- and understorey vegetation Bird Conservation

A replicated, controlled before-and-after study in riparian forest along the Middle Rio Grande, New Mexico, USA (Smith et al. 2009), found that black-chinned hummingbird Archilochus alexandri nest survival was lower after fuel reduction treatments, including the application of herbicide to exotic shrubs, but did not fall in control plots.

 

Manually control or remove midstorey and ground-level vegetation (including mowing, chaining, cutting etc) in forests Bird Conservation

A replicated, controlled study in riparian forest along the Middle Rio Grande, New Mexico, USA, in 2002-2004 (Smith et al. 2009), found an 18% increase in the number of black-chinned hummingbird Archilochus alexandri nests (from 114 to 134) across four sites where exotic shrubs and woody debris were removed and chipped before herbicide was applied to the root crowns of exotic species. However, an increase was only seen at one site, with the other three showing a 27% decline from 73 to 53 nests. This compared with an 8% increase at three sites with planting of native shrubs (see ‘Plant native shrubs following fuel reduction’) after fuel reduction and a 42% decrease at two sites where debris was burned (‘Use prescribed burning’). Across all fuel reduction treatments, nest survival was around 67% before fuel reduction and 43% after; in three control plots it remained similar (54 vs. 57%).