P3.37 Friday, Jan. 6 Avian community response to seasonal and successional changes. CORWIN, P.*; NOLAN, P.M.; SC Dept. of Natural Resources; The Citadel CorwinP@dnr.sc.gov
Secondary succession plays a critical role in driving the structure of natural communities. Vertebrate communities should respond to these successional changes on long time frames, but can also be expected to undergo significant seasonal changes differing from those seen on successional time scales. Avian communities in particular may show distinct changes, given the birds’ ability to migrate long distances between habitats. We studied seasonal and successional changes in the abundance, diversity, and similarity of avian communities, in abandoned rice fields representing a variety of successional stages on the Cooper River, Berkeley County, South Carolina. We counted all birds detected from at least 20 census points, on each of three rice fields that differed in successional stage. We censused across all seasons of the year, using sight and sound to identify all birds. We used an ANOVA to test for differences in abundance, and in Shannon-Weaver diversity across seasons and successional stages, and used the Sorensen index to assess community similarity across seasons and successional stages. Successional stage significantly influenced the diversity of the avian community. Although we detected no seasonal differences in diversity, the significant seasonal variability in the particular species comprising the avian community on these ponds is noteworthy. Understanding how the avian community responds to succession is important for conservation biologists and land managers. More knowledge of this community response will enable us to make better land management decisions, with regards to allowing succession to return the land to a “natural state” or continuing to alter the landscape to benefit threatened or endangered species.