Special Issue "Boreal Bird Ecology, Management and Conservation"

A special issue of Diversity (ISSN 1424-2818). This special issue belongs to the section "Animal Diversity".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 November 2020).

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Stacy A. McNulty
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Adirondack Ecological Center, State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Newcomb, NY 12852, USA
Interests: forest ecology; phenology; vertebrate ecology; exploration of long-term changes; biodiversity conservation and relationship of human land use planning; recreation and forest management to ecosystem function in the northern forest
Dr. Michale Glennon
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Paul Smith’s College Adirondack Watershed Institute, PO Box 625, Paul Smiths, NY 12970, USA
Interests: effects of land use management on wildlife populations; impacts of residential development on wildlife; recreation ecology; ecological integrity; impacts of climate change on boreal birds

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

A recent study in Science reported a 29% decline in the North American bird population over 50 years. The loss of almost 3 billion birds is mirrored in Europe and indicates a widespread ecological crisis that may have resulted from loss and degradation of habitat, especially due to agricultural intensification and urbanization. In the Americas, Partners in Flight lists many Temperate Breeders of High Tri-National Concern (e.g., Bicknell’s Thrush, Olive-sided Flycatcher, and Canada Warbler) at risk from habitat loss, contaminants, exotic species, climate change, and threats on their breeding, stopover and wintering grounds. The aim of this Special Issue titled “Boreal Bird Ecology, Management, and Conservation” is to present the current state of knowledge on boreal bird diversity, ecology, management, and conservation. As an important component of boreal habitats, the taxonomic and functional aspects of the avian community are key to conservation measures and can indicate effects of anthropogenic activity on boreal habitats worldwide. We invite you to contribute to this Special Issue of Diversity.

Prof. Stacy A. McNulty
Dr. Michale Glennon
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Diversity is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • biodiversity distribution and abundance
  • biogeography and phylogeography
  • boreal birds
  • climate change
  • conservation
  • extinction risk
  • refugia, taxonomy, and systematics
  • temperate/boreal ecotone

Published Papers (10 papers)

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Editorial

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Editorial
Boreal Bird Ecology, Management and Conservation
Diversity 2021, 13(5), 206; https://doi.org/10.3390/d13050206 - 13 May 2021
Viewed by 429
Abstract
The circumpolar boreal forest covers approximately 12,000,000 km2 and is one of the world’s most extensive biomes [...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Boreal Bird Ecology, Management and Conservation)

Research

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Article
Implications of Historical and Contemporary Processes on Genetic Differentiation of a Declining Boreal Songbird: The Rusty Blackbird
Diversity 2021, 13(3), 103; https://doi.org/10.3390/d13030103 - 25 Feb 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 537
Abstract
The arrangement of habitat features via historical or contemporary events can strongly influence genomic and demographic connectivity, and in turn affect levels of genetic diversity and resilience of populations to environmental perturbation. The rusty blackbird (Euphagus carolinus) is a forested wetland [...] Read more.
The arrangement of habitat features via historical or contemporary events can strongly influence genomic and demographic connectivity, and in turn affect levels of genetic diversity and resilience of populations to environmental perturbation. The rusty blackbird (Euphagus carolinus) is a forested wetland habitat specialist whose population size has declined sharply (78%) over recent decades. The species breeds across the expansive North American boreal forest region, which contains a mosaic of habitat conditions resulting from active natural disturbance regimes and glacial history. We used landscape genomics to evaluate how past and present landscape features have shaped patterns of genetic diversity and connectivity across the species’ breeding range. Based on reduced-representation genomic and mitochondrial DNA, genetic structure followed four broad patterns influenced by both historical and contemporary forces: (1) an east–west partition consistent with vicariance during the last glacial maximum; (2) a potential secondary contact zone between eastern and western lineages at James Bay, Ontario; (3) insular differentiation of birds on Newfoundland; and (4) restricted regional gene flow among locales within western and eastern North America. The presence of genomic structure and therefore restricted dispersal among populations may limit the species’ capacity to respond to rapid environmental change. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Boreal Bird Ecology, Management and Conservation)
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Article
Rusty Blackbird (Euphagus carolinus) Foraging Habitat and Prey Availability in New England: Implications for Conservation of a Declining Boreal Bird Species
Diversity 2021, 13(2), 99; https://doi.org/10.3390/d13020099 - 23 Feb 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 715
Abstract
The Rusty Blackbird (Euphagus carolinus) is an imperiled migratory songbird that breeds in and near the boreal wetlands of North America. Our objective was to investigate factors associated with Rusty Blackbird wetland use, including aquatic invertebrate prey and landscape features, to [...] Read more.
The Rusty Blackbird (Euphagus carolinus) is an imperiled migratory songbird that breeds in and near the boreal wetlands of North America. Our objective was to investigate factors associated with Rusty Blackbird wetland use, including aquatic invertebrate prey and landscape features, to better understand the birds’ habitat use. Using single-season occupancy modeling, we assessed breeding Rusty Blackbird use of both active and inactive beaver-influenced wetlands in New Hampshire and Maine, USA. We conducted timed, unlimited-radius point counts of Rusty Blackbirds at 60 sites from May to July 2014. Following each point count, we sampled aquatic invertebrates and surveyed habitat characteristics including percent mud cover, puddle presence/absence, and current beaver activity. We calculated wetland size using aerial imagery and calculated percent conifer cover within a 500 m buffer of each site using the National Land Cover Database 2011. Percent mud cover and invertebrate abundance best predicted Rusty Blackbird use of wetlands. Rusty Blackbirds were more likely to be found in sites with lower percent mud cover and higher aquatic invertebrate abundance. Sites with Rusty Blackbird detections had significantly higher abundances of known or likely prey items in the orders Amphipoda, Coleoptera, Diptera, Odonata, and Trichoptera. The probability of Rusty Blackbird detection was 0.589 ± 0.06 SE. This study provides new information that will inform habitat conservation for this imperiled species in a beaver-influenced landscape. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Boreal Bird Ecology, Management and Conservation)
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Article
Flock Size Predicts Niche Breadth and Focal Wintering Regions for a Rapidly Declining Boreal-Breeding Passerine, the Rusty Blackbird
Diversity 2021, 13(2), 62; https://doi.org/10.3390/d13020062 - 04 Feb 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 643
Abstract
Once exceptionally abundant, the Rusty Blackbird (Euphagus carolinus) has declined precipitously over at least the last century. The species breeds across the Boreal forest, where it is so thinly distributed across such remote areas that it is extremely challenging to monitor [...] Read more.
Once exceptionally abundant, the Rusty Blackbird (Euphagus carolinus) has declined precipitously over at least the last century. The species breeds across the Boreal forest, where it is so thinly distributed across such remote areas that it is extremely challenging to monitor or research, hindering informed conservation. As such, we employed a targeted citizen science effort on the species’ wintering grounds in the more (human) populated southeast United States: the Rusty Blackbird Winter Blitz. Using a MaxEnt machine learning framework, we modeled patterns of occurrence of small, medium, and large flocks (<20, 20–99, and >99 individuals, respectively) in environmental space using both Blitz and eBird data. Our primary objective was to determine environmental variables that best predict Rusty Blackbird occurrence, with emphasis on (1) examining differences in key environmental predictors across flock sizes, (2) testing whether environmental niche breadth decreased with flock size, and (3) identifying regions with higher predicted occurrence (hotspots). The distribution of flocks varied across environmental predictors, with average minimum temperature (~2 °C for medium and large flocks) and proportional coverage of floodplain forest having the largest influence on occurrence. Environmental niche breadth decreased with increasing flock size, suggesting an increasingly restrictive range of environmental conditions capable of supporting larger flocks. We identified large hotspots in floodplain forests in the Lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley, the South Atlantic Coastal Plain, and the Black Belt Prairie. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Boreal Bird Ecology, Management and Conservation)
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Article
Occupancy of the American Three-Toed Woodpecker in a Heavily-Managed Boreal Forest of Eastern Canada
Diversity 2021, 13(1), 35; https://doi.org/10.3390/d13010035 - 19 Jan 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 664
Abstract
The southern extent of the boreal forest in North America has experienced intensive human disturbance in recent decades. Among these, forest harvesting leads to the substantial loss of late-successional stands that include key habitat attributes for several avian species. The American Three-toed Woodpecker, [...] Read more.
The southern extent of the boreal forest in North America has experienced intensive human disturbance in recent decades. Among these, forest harvesting leads to the substantial loss of late-successional stands that include key habitat attributes for several avian species. The American Three-toed Woodpecker, Picoides dorsalis, is associated with continuous old spruce forests in the eastern part of its range. In this study, we assessed the influence of habitat characteristics at different scales on the occupancy of American Three-toed Woodpecker in a heavily-managed boreal landscape of northeastern Canada, and we inferred species occupancy at the regional scale. We conducted 185 playback stations over two breeding seasons and modelled the occupancy of the species while taking into account the probability of detection. American Three-toed Woodpecker occupancy was lower in stands with large areas recently clear-cut, and higher in landscapes with large extents of old-growth forest dominated by black spruce. At the regional scale, areas with high probability of occupancy were scarce and mostly within protected areas. Habitat requirements of the American Three-toed Woodpecker during the breeding season, coupled with overall low occupancy rate in our study area, challenge its long-term sustainability in such heavily managed landscapes. Additionally, the scarcity of areas of high probability of occupancy in the region suggests that the ecological role of old forest outside protected areas could be compromised. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Boreal Bird Ecology, Management and Conservation)
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Article
Assessment of Rusty Blackbird Habitat Occupancy in the Long Range Mountains of Newfoundland, Canada Using Forest Inventory Data
Diversity 2020, 12(9), 340; https://doi.org/10.3390/d12090340 - 04 Sep 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 872
Abstract
Rusty blackbirds (Euphagus carolinus), once common across their boreal breeding distribution, have undergone steep, range-wide population declines. Newfoundland is home to what has been described as one of just two known subspecies (E. c. nigrans) and hosts some of [...] Read more.
Rusty blackbirds (Euphagus carolinus), once common across their boreal breeding distribution, have undergone steep, range-wide population declines. Newfoundland is home to what has been described as one of just two known subspecies (E. c. nigrans) and hosts some of the highest known densities of the species across its extensive breeding range. To contribute to a growing body of literature examining rusty blackbird breeding ecology, we studied habitat occupancy in Western Newfoundland. We conducted 1960 point counts across a systematic survey grid during the 2016 and 2017 breeding seasons, and modeled blackbird occupancy using forest resource inventory data. We also assessed the relationship between the presence of introduced red squirrels (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus), an avian nest predator, and blackbird occupancy. We evaluated 31 a priori models of blackbird probability of occurrence. Consistent with existing literature, the best predictors of blackbird occupancy were lakes and ponds, streams, rivers, and bogs. Red squirrels did not appear to have a strong influence on blackbird habitat occupancy. We are among the first to model rusty blackbird habitat occupancy using remotely-sensed landcover data; given the widespread availability of forest resource inventory data, this approach may be useful in conservation efforts for this and other rare but widespread boreal species. Given that Newfoundland may be a geographic stronghold for rusty blackbirds, future research should focus on this distinct population. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Boreal Bird Ecology, Management and Conservation)
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Article
Rusty Blackbird Habitat Selection and Survivorship during Nesting and Post-Fledging
Diversity 2020, 12(6), 221; https://doi.org/10.3390/d12060221 - 02 Jun 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 831
Abstract
Rusty blackbird (Euphagus carolinus) populations have declined dramatically since the 1970s and the cause of decline is still unclear. As is the case for many passerines, most research on rusty blackbirds occurs during the nesting period. Nest success is relatively high [...] Read more.
Rusty blackbird (Euphagus carolinus) populations have declined dramatically since the 1970s and the cause of decline is still unclear. As is the case for many passerines, most research on rusty blackbirds occurs during the nesting period. Nest success is relatively high in most of the rusty blackbird’s range, but survival during the post-fledging period, when fledgling songbirds are particularly vulnerable, has not been studied. We assessed fledgling and adult survivorship and nest success in northern New Hampshire from May to August in 2010 to 2012. We also assessed fledgling and adult post-fledging habitat selection and nest-site selection. The likelihood of rusty blackbirds nesting in a given area increased with an increasing proportion of softwood/mixed-wood sapling stands and decreasing distances to first to sixth order streams. Wetlands were not selected for nest sites, but both adults and fledglings selected wetlands for post-fledging habitat. Fledglings and adults selected similar habitat post-fledging, but fledglings were much more likely to be found in habitat with an increasing proportion of softwood/mixed-wood sapling stands and were more likely to be closer to streams than adults. No habitat variables selected during nesting or post-fledging influenced daily survival rates, which were relatively low for adults over the 60-day study periods (males 0.996, females 0.998). Fledgling survival rates (0.89) were much higher than reported for species of similar size. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Boreal Bird Ecology, Management and Conservation)
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Article
Prioritizing Areas for Land Conservation and Forest Management Planning for the Threatened Canada Warbler (Cardellina canadensis) in the Atlantic Northern Forest of Canada
Diversity 2020, 12(2), 61; https://doi.org/10.3390/d12020061 - 04 Feb 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1056
Abstract
Populations of Canada Warbler (Cardellina canadensis) are declining in Canada’s Atlantic Northern Forest. Land conservancies and government agencies are interested in identifying areas to protect populations, while some timber companies wish to manage forests to minimize impacts on Canada Warbler and [...] Read more.
Populations of Canada Warbler (Cardellina canadensis) are declining in Canada’s Atlantic Northern Forest. Land conservancies and government agencies are interested in identifying areas to protect populations, while some timber companies wish to manage forests to minimize impacts on Canada Warbler and potentially create future habitat. We developed seven conservation planning scenarios using Zonation software to prioritize candidate areas for permanent land conservation (4 scenarios) or responsible forest management (minimizing species removal during forest harvesting while promoting colonization of regenerated forest; 3 scenarios). Factors used to prioritize areas included Canada Warbler population density, connectivity to protected areas, future climate suitability, anthropogenic disturbance, and recent Canada Warbler observations. We analyzed each scenario for three estimates of natal dispersal distance (5, 10, and 50 km). We found that scenarios assuming large dispersal distances prioritized a few large hotspots, while low dispersal distance scenarios prioritized smaller, broadly distributed areas. For all scenarios, efficiency (proportion of current Canada Warbler population retained per unit area) declined with higher dispersal distance estimates and inclusion of climate change effects in the scenario. Using low dispersal distance scenarios in decision-making offers a more conservative approach to maintaining this species at risk. Given the differences among the scenarios, we encourage conservation planners to evaluate the reliability of dispersal estimates, the influence of habitat connectivity, and future climate suitability when prioritizing areas for conservation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Boreal Bird Ecology, Management and Conservation)
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Article
Can Topographic Variation in Climate Buffer against Climate Change-Induced Population Declines in Northern Forest Birds?
Diversity 2020, 12(2), 56; https://doi.org/10.3390/d12020056 - 01 Feb 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1472
Abstract
Increased attention is being paid to the ecological drivers and conservation measures which could mitigate climate change-induced pressures for species survival, potentially helping populations to remain in their present-day locations longer. One important buffering mechanism against climate change may be provided by the [...] Read more.
Increased attention is being paid to the ecological drivers and conservation measures which could mitigate climate change-induced pressures for species survival, potentially helping populations to remain in their present-day locations longer. One important buffering mechanism against climate change may be provided by the heterogeneity in topography and consequent local climate conditions. However, the buffering capacity of this topoclimate has so far been insufficiently studied based on empirical survey data across multiple sites and species. Here, we studied whether the fine-grained air temperature variation of protected areas (PAs) affects the population changes of declining northern forest bird species. Importantly to our study, in PAs harmful land use, such as logging, is not allowed, enabling the detection of the effects of temperature buffering, even at relatively moderate levels of topographic variation. Our survey data from 129 PAs located in the boreal zone in Finland show that the density of northern forest species was higher in topographically heterogeneous PAs than in topographically more homogeneous PAs. Moreover, local temperature variation had a significant effect on the density change of northern forest birds from 1981–1999 to 2000–2017, indicating that change in bird density was generally smaller in PAs with higher topographic variation. Thus, we found a clear buffering effect stemming from the local temperature variation of PAs in the population trends of northern forest birds. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Boreal Bird Ecology, Management and Conservation)
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Other

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Perspective
Conservation Lessons from the Study of North American Boreal Birds at Their Southern Periphery
Diversity 2020, 12(6), 257; https://doi.org/10.3390/d12060257 - 24 Jun 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1167
Abstract
Many North American boreal forest birds reach the southern periphery of their distribution in the montane spruce–fir forests of northeastern United States and the barren coastal forests of Maritime Canada. Because the southern periphery may be the first to be impacted by warming [...] Read more.
Many North American boreal forest birds reach the southern periphery of their distribution in the montane spruce–fir forests of northeastern United States and the barren coastal forests of Maritime Canada. Because the southern periphery may be the first to be impacted by warming climates, these populations provide a unique opportunity to examine several factors that will influence the conservation of this threatened group under climate change. We discuss recent research on boreal birds in Northeastern US and in Maritime Canada related to genetic diversity, population trends in abundance, distributional shifts in response to climate change, community composition, and threats from shifting nest predators. We discuss how results from these studies may inform the conservation of boreal birds in a warming world as well as open questions that need addressing. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Boreal Bird Ecology, Management and Conservation)
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