Date of this Version
U.S. Government Work
In agricultural landscapes, the Longleaf Pine Initiative (LLPI) and the Bobwhite Quail Initiative (BQI) aim to restore longleaf pine forests and early successional habitats, respectively. The early stage of longleaf pine stands and grass and forb vegetation produced by a combination of both restoration programs (LLPI-BQI) may form habitat conditions favorable to early successional bird species and other birds, increasing avian diversity. We investigated how the LLPI and BQI programs affected taxonomic and functional diversity of birds and abundance of early successional birds (grassland and scrub/shrub species), and what environmental characteristics were associated with the diversity and abundance of birds. Our study was performed at 41 fields in Georgia, USA, during 2001-2002 by considering environmental characteristics at two spatial scales: local-scale vegetation features and restoration program type (LLPI or LLPI-BQI) and landscape-scale vegetation features and landscape heterogeneity. Functional evenness, species richness, and abundance of grassland and scrub/shrub species did not show a clear association with local- or landscape-scale variables. Shannon-Wiener diversity was slightly influenced by restoration program type (local-scale variable) with higher value at LLPI-BQI stands than at LLPI stands despite no significant differences in local vegetation features between those stands. Functional divergence was strongly positively associated with landscape-scale variables. That is, niche differentiation increased with increasing shrub coverage within a landscape, reducing competition between abundant bird species and others. Our results suggest that although a combination of BQI and LLPI program may have a positive effect on avian taxonomic diversity, it is important to consider shrub vegetation cover within a landscape to improve functional diversity.