Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Integrated Environmental Sciences

First Advisor

Alix Denise Dowling Fink, M.S.

Second Advisor

Timothy W. Stewart, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Dana P. Johnson, M.S.


Population declines of many Neotropical migrant bird species (NTMs) in parts or all of their North American breeding ranges have prompted concern regarding the conservation of these species. Many NTMs have specific habitat requirements and are thus negatively affected by habitat alteration. In eastern North America, habitats have changed significantly since European settlement and those changes have had different impacts on different suites of breeding birds. Forest birds are frequently identified as species particularly sensitive to habitat changes though, more recently,marked declines of shrubland or early successional songbirds have raised concern. My goal was to examine the effects of a specific silvicultural prescription, shelterwood harvest, on breeding bird communities in the Virginia Piedmont. I found that forest-breeding species occurred only at very low numbers in harvested sites while shrubland-breeding species responded positively to harvest. However, data indicated that shrubland bird abundance decreased in the 4th year post-harvest. Thus, these habitats may only be suitable to early successional birds for a short window of time. ANOVA results demonstrated significant (P < .05) effects for stand age in all but one of the 11 species studied. Site effects were significant (P < .05) in all but 4 of the 11 species studied. Age*site interactions were significant (P < .05) in 5 of the 11 study species. Responses to shelterwood harvest cuts highlighted the importance of management that is balanced in space and time to benefit multiple species and species suites.



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