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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Avian Community Structure Among Restored Riparian Habitats in Northwestern Mississippi

Authors
item Smiley, Peter
item Maul, Jonathan - SOUTHERN ILLINOIS UNIV
item Cooper, Charles

Submitted to: Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: December 17, 2006
Publication Date: February 12, 2007
Citation: Smiley, P.C., Maul, J.D., Cooper, C.M. 2007. Avian Community Structure Among Restored Riparian Habitats in Northwestern Mississippi. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment. 122:149-156.

Interpretive Summary: Riparian corridors are important habitats for birds and other animals within agricultural landscapes. Expanding agriculture and stream channelization have reduced the habitat quality of riparian habitats within agroecosystems. In northwestern Mississippi, oversteepened and enlarged streambank heights caused by channel incision frequently results in lateral gully erosion that rapidly migrates through the riparian zone and into the agricultural field. Currently, installation of erosion control structures (drop pipes) at the riparian zone - agricultural field interface halts gully erosion and simultaneously establishes one of four riparian habitat types. However, the benefits of these restored riparian habitats for avian communities are unknown. We compared avian communities among four types of restored habitats and among four seasonal periods in northwestern Mississippi from June 1994 to May 1996. The diversity and abundance of birds increased as habitat area, pool volume, and vertical structure of woody vegetation increased among riparian habitat types. Additionally, the greatest diversity and abundance occurred during the spring and fall. Present drop pipe installation practices focus on erosion control without consideration of habitat creation. Our results suggest that installation practices can be altered to more effectively incorporate habitat creation to provide the greatest ecological benefits for avian communities within impacted riparian zones. Specifically, our results suggest practices that increase riparian habitat area, facilitate pool development, and increase the amount of woody vegetation within riparian zones will benefit farmland birds.

Technical Abstract: Historically, expanding agriculture and stream channelization have degraded riparian zones that serve as vital habitat for avian communities within agroecosystems. Riparian zones and agricultural fields adjacent to incised streams in northwestern Mississippi are impacted by gully erosion initiated by runoff flowing over unstable streambanks. Currently, installation of erosion control structures (drop pipes) at the riparian zone - agricultural field interface halts gully erosion and simultaneously establishes one of four riparian habitat types. We compared avian communities among four types of restored habitats and among four seasonal periods in northwestern Mississippi from June 1994 to May 1996. Fifty-seven species were observed among riparian habitats, of which 49% were neotropical migrants. Habitat type and season significantly affected species richness, abundance, and diversity. Species richness, abundance, and diversity increased as habitat area, pool volume, and vertical structure of woody vegetation increased among riparian habitat types. Additionally, species richness, abundance, and diversity increased during spring and fall. The pattern of avian species richness, abundance, and diversity among habitat types did not differ among the four seasons. Present drop pipe installation practices focus on erosion control without consideration of habitat creation. Installation practices can be altered to more effectively incorporate habitat creation to provide the greatest ecological benefits for avian communities within impacted riparian zones.

Last Modified: 4/24/2014
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