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Ecol Appl. 2010 Sep;20(6):1775-86.

Recreation-induced changes in boreal bird communities in protected areas.

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Oulanka Research Station and Department of Biology, University of Oulu, P.O. Box 3000, Oulu FI-90014, Finland.


The impacts of human-induced disturbance on birds have been studied in growing extent, but there are relatively few studies about the effects of recreation on forest bird communities in protected areas. In this paper, the relative importance of recreation as well as environmental variables on bird communities in Oulanka National Park, in northeastern Finland, was investigated using general additive models (GAM). Bird data collected using the line transect method along hiking trails and in undisturbed control areas were related to number of visits, area of tourism infrastructure, and habitat variables. We further examined the impact of spatial autocorrelation by calculating an autocovariate term for GAMs. Our results indicate that number of visits affects the occurrence and composition of bird communities, but it had no impact on total species richness. Open-cup nesters breeding on the ground showed strongest negative response to visitor pressure, whereas the open-cup nesters nesting in trees and shrubs were more tolerant. For cavity-nesting species, recreation had no significant impact. The contribution of the number of visits was generally low also in models in which it was selected, and the occurrence of birds was mainly determined by habitat characteristics of the area. However, our results show that the recreation-induced disturbance with relatively low visitor pressure can have negative impacts on some bird species and groups of species and should be considered in management of protected areas with recreational activities.

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