Birds and Land Classes in Young Forested Landscapes

Brice B. Hanberry1, *, Phillip Hanberry1, Stephen Demarais2
1 School of Natural Resources, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO 65211, USA
2 Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, Box 9690, Mississippi State University, Mississippi State, MS 39762, USA

© 2013 Hanberry et al.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: ( This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the University of Missouri, 203 Natural Resources Building, Columbia, MO 65211, USA; Tel: 573.875.5341; Ext. 230; E-mails:


In the Mississippi Coastal Plain of the southeastern United States, we explored relationships among bird species and vegetation types and landscape characteristics at four different scales. We modeled abundance of priority avian species from Breeding Bird Surveys using land class metrics at 0.24, 1, 3, and 5-km extents. Our modeling method was logistic regression and model selection was based on Akaike’s Information Criteria and validation with reserved data. Northern bobwhite (Colinus virginianus), red-headed woodpecker (Melanerpes erythrocephalus), northern parula (Parula americana), Swainson’s warbler (Limnothlypis swainsonii), prairie warbler (Dendroica discolor), hooded warbler (Wilsonia citrina), and brown-headed cowbird (Molothrus ater) had models containing positive area or core area variables. White-eyed vireo (Vireo griseus) and gray catbird (Dumetella carolinensis) had models with a combination of area and edge associations at different scales. Acadian flycatcher (Empidonax virescens), red-bellied woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus), wood thrush (Hylocichla mustelina), and yellow-breasted chat (Icteria virens) had positive edge density models. Modeling at different scales produced more complete habitat associations for most species and landscape variables were more influential at larger extents than the smallest extent. Although Mississippi is heavily forested, the landscape is unexpectedly fragmented, with small areal extents of vegetation types. Managers should seek to provide large extents of a variety of habitats, including historically representative vegetation types such as low density pine, to support persistence of a complete suite of avian species.

Keywords: Conservation, core area, edge effects, habitat, landscape.