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Local and regional demography in a migratory forest songbird and effects of forest management intensity Open Access


Other title
population dynamics
habitat selection
stable isotopes
population growth
Seiurus aurocapilla
demographic model
climate change
habitat alteration
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Haché, Samuel Alcide
Supervisor and department
Bayne, Erin (Biological Sciences)/ Villard, Marc-André (Biologie; Université de Moncton)
Examining committee member and department
Nielsen, Scott (Renewable Resources)
Nocera, Joseph (Biology; Trent University)
Derocher, Andrew (Biological Sciences)
Boutin, Stan (Biological Sciences)
Department of Biological Sciences
Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
The numerical response of forest birds to habitat alteration has been well documented in North America, but the underlying demographic processes driving these changes remain largely unknown. Among species sensitive to such alterations, the Ovenbird (Seiurus aurocapilla) shows one of the largest declines in abundance following low-intensity partial harvesting in the northern hardwood forest. The main objectives of this dissertation were to: 1) document the demographic response of the Ovenbird to partial harvesting; 2) test predictions from different conceptual models of habitat selection; 3) use stable isotope analyses to obtain estimates of natal dispersal distances, and 4) model current and future population dynamics in an intensively managed forest landscape based on alternative harvesting and climatic scenarios. I provided evidence for an ideal free distribution (IFD) in Ovenbirds based on the lack of a treatment (selection harvesting) effect on per capita productivity, daily nest survival, and post-fledging survival and a lower density and productivity per unit area in recent selection cuts compared to untreated deciduous stands. From feather samples of known origin, I showed important year and age variation in stable hydrogen isotope ratios (δ2Hf). Using this information and a multi-isotopic approach (δ2Hf and δ34Sf), I showed that almost all individuals (33/35) recruited in the breeding population would be considered residents and that only 6% of individuals would have originated from within 240 km of the study area. The study area would be a demographic sink, but I also detected source-sink dynamics within the study area. Projections of the future status of the breeding Ovenbird population over a 75-year period suggest that climate change will have more negative impacts than harvesting. Also, if population size is not maintained through immigration, a large decline in abundance is expected. This dissertation provides an important contribution to fundamental and applied avian ecology. Empirical evidence for an IFD has rarely been documented and, overall, my results suggest that the Ovenbird is more resilient to moderate alteration of its habitat than previously reported. Nonetheless, land managers should consider the numerous threats to migratory birds throughout their annual cycle, including the effects of climate change.
Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of these terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
Citation for previous publication
Haché, S., M.-A. Villard, and E. M. Bayne. 2013. Experimental evidence for an ideal free distribution in a breeding population of a territorial songbird. Ecology 94:861–869.Haché, S., E. M. Bayne, and M.-A. Villard. 2014. Postharvest regeneration, sciurid abundance, and postfledging survival and movements in an Ovenbird population. Condor 116: 102-112.Haché S., K. A. Hobson, M.-A. Villard, and E. M. Bayne. 2012. Assigning birds to geographic origin using feather hydrogen isotope ratios (δ2H): importance of year, age, and habitat. Canadian Journal of Zoology 90: 722–728.Haché S., K. A. Hobson, E. M. Bayne, S. L. Van Wilgenburg, and M.-A. Villard. In review. Tracking Natal Dispersal in a Coastal Population of a Migratory Songbird Using Feather Stable Isotope (δ2H, δ34S) Tracers. PLoS ONE.

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