Impact of forestry practices on fitness correlates and population productivity in an open-nesting bird species

M Griesser, Magdalena Nystrand, Sonke Eggers, Jan Ekman

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47 Citations (Scopus)


In the boreal forests of Fennoscandia, over 99 of forest area has been altered by forestry practices, which has created forest with age structures and stand characteristics that differ from primary forest stands. Although many researchers have investigated how forestry affects species abundance, few have assessed how forestry practices affect fitness correlates of species living in altered habitats, and this has negatively affected management efforts. We experimentally addressed the effect of standard forestry practices on fitness correlates of an open-nesting, long-lived bird species typical to boreal forests of Eurasia, the Siberian jay (Perisoreus infaustus). We used a before-after comparison of reproductive data on the level of territories and found that standard forestry practices had a strong negative effect on the breeding success of jays. Both partial thinning of territories and partial clearcutting of territories reduced future breeding success by a factor of 0.35. Forestry practices reduced territory occupancy. Thus, over the 15 years of the study, productivity of the affected population declined over 50 as a result of territory abandonment and reduced breeding success. Results of previous studies on Siberian jays suggest that the strong effect of forest thinning on fitness is explained by the fact that most common predators of nests and adults are visually oriented and thus thinning makes prey and nests more visible to predators. The consequences of thinning we observed are likely to apply to a wide range of species that rely on understory to provide visual protection from predators. Thus, our results are important for the development of effective conservation management protocols and for the refinement of thinning practices.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)767 - 774
Number of pages8
JournalConservation Biology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2007
Externally publishedYes

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