Breeding bird populations in relation to changing forest structure following fire exclusion: a 15-year study

  • Published source details Engstrom R.T., Crawford R.L. & Baker W.W. (1984) Breeding bird populations in relation to changing forest structure following fire exclusion: a 15-year study. The Wilson Bulletin, 96, 437-450.


This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Use fire suppression/control

Action Link
Bird Conservation
  1. Use fire suppression/control

    A before-and-after study in 1967-1981 in loblolly pine Pinus taeda-shortleaf pine P. echinata woodland at Tall Timbers Research Station, Florida, USA (Engstrom et al. 1984), found the breeding bird community changed dramatically in an 8.6 ha plot from which fire was was excluded for 15 years. The plot was burned in March 1967, after which fire excluded, with annual burns in the surrounding woodland. Species of more open habitat (e.g. blue grosbeak Passerina caerulea and Bachman's sparrow Aimophila aestivalis) disappeared within five years of fire exclusion although abundance of species peaked during the ‘brushy’ stage (years 3-7) and mesic woodland species (e.g. wood thrush Hylocichla mustelina) appeared following sub-canopy development. The total number of species recorded regularly in the plot fluctuated between 15 and 29 species. Numbers of red-cockaded woodpecker Picoides borealis declined (over the site as a whole) over the study period.


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