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Title Declines in high elevation populations of Southern Appalachian birds: confronting and reducing uncertainty
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Many species of birds are showing declines in trailing-edge populations in the southern Appalachian Mountains; however, the cause of these declines is not well understood. As shown in the talks in this session, causes likely vary for different species and can act in concert. Species associated with early successional habitat depend on disturbances such as fire, severe weather and timber harvest to maintain those habitats. Declines in disturbance-dependent species often can be related to lack of habitat creation/maintenance in recent decades. Other species are not in decline in the region. Still other species appear to be slowly declining in abundance but only at lower elevations, suggesting a possible link to climate change. Uncovering the exact population mechanism(s) (e.g., productivity, survival, recruitment) causing this elevational response is proving to be a challenge. We propose an approach that uses the principles of adaptive management, in which decisions are guided by predictions under multiple, plausible hypotheses about climate impacts. Under this plan, monitoring is used to evaluate the response of the system to climate drivers, and management actions (and experiments) are used to confront testable predictions with data, in turn providing feedback for future decision making. Management actions include forest management alternatives that alter the structure and/or species composition of forest stands at multiple elevations and latitudes.

Contributors Robert J. Cooper, Michael J. Conroy and Richard B. Chandler

Cooper, R., Conroy, M. J., & Chandler, R. B. (2018). Declines in high elevation populations of Southern Appalachian birds: confronting and reducing uncertainty. In 2018 Meeting of the Association of Field Ornithologists and Wilson Ornithological Society. Chattanooga, TN

File Date 2018
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