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Chandler, R. B., D. I. King, and S. DeStefano. 2009. Scrub-shrub bird habitat associations at multiple spatial scales in beaver meadows in Massachusetts. Auk 126:187-197.


Abstract.—Most scrub–shrub bird species are declining in the northeastern United States, and these declines are largely
attributed to regional declines in habitat availability. American Beaver (Castor canadensis; hereafter “beaver”) populations have
been increasing in the Northeast in recent decades, and beavers create scrub–shrub habitat through their dam-building and foraging
activities. Few systematic studies have been conducted on the value of beaver-modified habitats for scrub–shrub birds, and these data
are important for understanding habitat selection of scrub–shrub birds as well as for assessing regional habitat availability for these
species. We conducted surveys in 37 beaver meadows in a 2,800-km2 study area in western Massachusetts during 2005 and 2006 to
determine the extent to which these beaver-modified habitats are used by scrub–shrub birds, as well as the characteristics of beaver
meadows most closely related to bird use. We modeled bird abundance in relation to microhabitat-, patch-, and landscape-context
variables while adjusting for survey-specific covariates affecting detectability using N-mixture models. We found that scrub–shrub
birds of regional conservation concern occupied these sites and that birds responded differently to microhabitat, patch, and landscape
characteristics of beaver meadows. Generally, scrub–shrub birds increased in abundance along a gradient of increasing vegetation
complexity, and three species were positively related to patch size. We conclude that these habitats can potentially play an important
role in regional conservation of scrub–shrub birds and recommend that conservation priority be given to larger beaver meadows with
diverse vegetation structure and composition.


Current Staff

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5 Year Summary

Students graduated: 71

Scientific Publications: 35

Presentations: 148



January (1st Quarter/Winter) 2009

Unit Authors

Massachusetts Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit Cooperators

  1. Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife
  2. Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries
  3. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  4. U.S. Geological Survey
  5. University of Massachusetts
  6. Wildlife Management Institute