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International Journal of Forestry Research
Volume 2014, Article ID 329836, 9 pages
Research Article

Does Proximity to Wetland Shrubland Increase the Habitat Value for Shrubland Birds of Small Patches of Upland Shrubland in the Northeastern United States?

1Department of Natural Resources Science, University of Rhode Island, 1 Greenhouse Road, Kingston, RI 02881, USA
2National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory, Atlantic Ecology Division, US Environmental Protection Agency, 27 Tarzwell Drive, Narragansett, RI 02992, USA

Received 13 November 2013; Revised 13 January 2014; Accepted 14 January 2014; Published 20 February 2014

Academic Editor: Kihachiro Kikuzawa

Copyright © 2014 Bill Buffum and Richard A. McKinney. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The loss of shrubland habitat is linked to population declines for many wildlife species, including several bird species of conservation concern. Conservation agencies in the northeastern United States encourage private landowners to clearcut patches of forest to create shrubland habitat. Many private landowners are only willing to create small clearcuts; therefore, it is important to understand how to maximize the impact of small clearcuts on bird habitat use. In this study we examined whether proximity to wetland shrubland increases the habitat value of small patches of upland shrubland. We conducted point counts at 22 sites containing small patches of upland shrubland ranging in size from 0.1 to 7 ha. Shrubland bird species richness was significantly positively correlated with the proportion of wetland shrubland habitat within 100 m of a site, and with the extent of all shrubland habitat within 100 m, but not with the proportion of upland shrubland. Occupancy modeling indicated that the size of adjacent wetland shrub patches increased occupancy at the sites for five of eight species observed with sufficient rates of detection. Our results suggest that creating clearcuts adjacent to existing areas of wetland shrubland may enhance the habitat value of the patches for shrubland birds.