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Research article2019Peer reviewed

Ecological restoration for biodiversity conservation improves habitat quality for an insectivorous passerine in boreal forest

Versluijs, Martijn; Roberge, Jean-Michel; Eggers, Sonke; Boer, Jorina; Hjalten, Joakim


It is increasingly recognized that successful biodiversity conservation will necessitate active ecological restoration measures. In boreal forests, emulating natural disturbances is commonly used as a restoration tool for improving habitat quality for a range of sensitive species. We assessed the consequences of prescribed burning and artificial gap creation on the demographic parameters of an insectivorous bird, the pied flycatcher (Ficedula hypoleuca). This to improve our ability to develop strategies for successful ecological restoration aiming at improving the conservation status of boreal forest birds. Pied flycatchers reproduced equally well in nature reserves, forests subjected to ecological restoration and untreated control stands. Nestling body weight was found to be higher in stands restored through prescribed burning. Considering that nestling condition at the time of fledging is known to be positively related to survival rates after fledging, our results suggest a positive effect of prescribed burning on population dynamics and on local habitat quality. Our findings should encourage forest managers to actively use prescribed burning as a management tool in boreal forests to complement other conservation measures. However, one should be careful with generalizing these results to other bird species as they only are directly applicable to pied flycatchers. Still, they may potentially apply also to other insectivorous bird species with similar habitat requirements. In addition, it should be stressed that to maintain diverse boreal forest bird assemblages, heterogeneous landscapes are needed including both burned and unburned forest of different successional stages.


Pied flycatcher; Natural disturbances; Habitat quality; Prescribed burning; Gap cutting

Published in

Biological Conservation
2019, Volume: 237, pages: 90-96