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Consequences of forest fragmentation on territory quality of male Ovenbirds breeding in western boreal forests

Consequences of forest fragmentation on territory quality of male Ovenbirds breeding in western boreal forests

Canadian Journal of Zoology 80(11): 1841-1848

ISSN/ISBN: 0008-4301

DOI: 10.1139/z02-172

We evaluated the effects of forest fragmentation caused by agriculture on arthropod prey biomass and vegetation structure found in territories of male Ovenbirds (Seiurus aurocapillus) breeding in the southern boreal mixed woods of Saskatchewan, Canada. The objective of this study was to determine if previously documented differences in pairing success of male Ovenbirds in contiguous forests and forest fragments in our study area were associated with differences in arthropod prey biomass and vegetation structure between contiguous and fragmented forests. A secondary objective was to examine the correspondence between vegetation and arthropods to evaluate whether vegetation cues could be useful for birds attempting to predict future arthropod biomass during territory selection. Our results indicate that both vegetation structure and arthropod prey composition in Ovenbird territories differed between fragmented and contiguous forests, whereas total arthropod biomass did not. Furthermore, the correspondence of vegetation with arthropod prey composition and total prey biomass was weak, a result that questions the use of vegetation structure by male Ovenbirds for predicting future prey availability during territory selection. Overall, the current extent of forest fragmentation in our study area is not likely reducing pairing success of territorial male Ovenbirds by lowering the biomass of arthropod prey. However, landscape differences in vegetation structure could influence pairing success of male Ovenbirds in forest fragments by reducing suitable microhabitats for nesting or by increasing habitat suitability for nest predators and Brown-headed Cowbird (Molothrus ater) parasites.

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Accession: 003691361

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