Date: July 12, 2016
Source: USDA Forest Service - Northern Research Station
A new USDA Forest Service report documenting an unprecedented effort to inventory birds in the western Great Lakes region and analyze changes in bird populations over the past quarter of a century found that across a trio of national forests, most birds are doing well in terms of both species diversity and population.
Published as General Technical Report NRS-159, "Analysis of Long-term Forest Bird Monitoring Data from National Forests of the Western Great Lakes Region" describes trends and potential drivers in the abundance of bird species. Gerald Niemi of the University of Minnesota-Duluth's Natural Resources Research Institute and Robert Howe of the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay are lead authors of the report with co-author Brian Sturtevant, a research ecologist with the USDA Forest Service's Northern Research Station. An estimated 700 birders have volunteered their time or worked as paid field researchers to inventory bird species for more than 25 years. The report will serve as a useful reference for forest managers identifying how species respond to forest management and what species need attention.
"Forest Service science is contributing to healthy, sustainable forests that are more productive and, ultimately, produce cleaner air and water," said Tony Ferguson, Acting Director of the Northern Research Station and the Forest Products Laboratory. "Forest birds play a vital role in forest stewardship through seed dispersal and insect control, and this research will be a valuable reference for land managers working to protect critical habitat for forest birds."
In the three national forests covered by the inventory -- the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest in Wisconsin and the Superior and Chippewa National Forests in Northern Minnesota -- the analysis found overall healthy bird communities that give researchers and policy-makers a degree of optimism. "It paints a picture of fairly healthy bird communities in these forests over two decades of surveys," said Niemi. "It shows that there is tremendous diversity of bird species in the region and emphasizes the importance of national forests to migratory and resident bird species."