Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Ecol Appl. 2008 Sep;18(6):1325-30.

Are shrubland birds edge specialists?

Author information

  • 1Department of Natural Resources Conservation, University of Massachusetts, 201 Holdsworth Hall, Amherst, Massachusetts 01003, USA.


In studies of forest fragmentation, birds of scrubby, early-successional habitats are considered edge specialists. Because these birds are assumed to thrive in fragmented, edge-dominated areas, their landscape ecology has received little attention from ecologists. With populations of shrubland birds declining throughout the eastern United States, the question of whether or not these birds really prefer edge habitats has important conservation implications. We used a meta-analysis to test how edges affect the abundance of shrubland birds in early-successional habitats. We analyzed data for 17 species from seven studies that compared the abundances of birds in the interiors and edges of regenerating clearcuts surrounded by mature forest. The meta-analysis clearly showed that shrubland birds avoid edges. All 17 species tested had higher abundances in patch centers than along edges, and edge effects were significant for 8 of 17 species. The key implication of this result is that small or irregular patches, dominated by edge, are unlikely to provide suitable habitat for shrubland birds. Thus, management for these declining species should involve providing large patches and minimizing edges. These findings demonstrate the importance of testing widely accepted ecological classifications and the need to view landscape ecology from the perspective of non-forest wildlife.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk