Songbirds and Development
Recent analyses of long-term bird monitoring data demonstrate that many landbird species have experienced population declines in the past 30 years. Declining global population trends can best be reversed by identifying causal mechanisms on local scales.
The Conservation Research Center of Teton Science Schools began investigating local patterns in avian diversity in 2003. Results of systematic count data (point counts) suggest that residential development may exert a strong influence on western bird communities. Our work indicates that preserving forest structure may benefit certain species but will not conserve as rich an avian assemblage as minimizing fragmentation associated with residential development.
In 2008 we began an intensive study of songbird nest survival in the Jackson, Wyoming area. This research builds on data collected through our landbird monitoring program, and is focused in riparian habitat. Conservation Research Center staff and project volunteers monitor songbird nests on five sites during the breeding season. Sites are arranged along a gradient of housing density.
Preliminary analyses indicate that residential development may reduce songbird nest survival. Analysis of 2008 and 2009 nesting data shows a strong inverse relationship between productivity and housing density. While songbirds breed in sites surrounded by development, the likelihood of fledging young is less relative to sites in less disturbed landscapes. Our avian program continues to grow and incorporate new research methodologies. Data from our research provide science-based insights into the health of bird communities and the habitats upon which they depend.
- Quantify effects of residential development on songbird populations
- Examine the ways in which changes in habitat conditions affect bird species assemblages
- Facilitate use of our data through collaboration with local government, agencies and land managers
- Grand Teton National Park
- Earthwatch Institute
- Jackson Hole Land Trust
- Rafter J Homeowners Association
- Teton County Parks and Recreation
- U.S. Geological Survey
- Wyoming Game and Fish Department
Publications and Presentations
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