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Research article2006Peer reviewed

Indicator species among resident forest birds - A cross-regional evaluation in northern Europe

Roberge JM, Angelstam P


In European forests, plants, fungi and invertebrates have been proposed as indicator species for assessing conservation value at the stand scale. To cover larger spatial scales, wide-ranging vertebrates could be added to that set of species. For resident forest birds, we (1) explored whether the occurrence of some species could be used to indicate high species richness and abundances, and (2) compared the results among four regions in the Baltic Sea drainage basin with a common species pool but different forest management intensities and varying proportions of deciduous and coniferous trees (south-central and southern Sweden, south-central Lithuania and northeastern Poland). Assemblages of deciduous forest birds in 100-ha landscape units were generally nested, suggesting that species richness within that group may be predicted based on the presence of a few species. Birds of coniferous forests, however, showed poorer conformity to nestedness in Sweden. Specialised species such as the middle spotted (Dendrocopos medius) and lesser spotted woodpeckers (D. minor) in deciduous forest and the three-toed woodpecker (Picoides tridactylus) in coniferous forest generally figured among the best indicators. In deciduous forest, there was high cross-regional consistency in the identity of the best indicators. Moreover, the sites where the best indicator was present also harboured higher relative abundances of most background species. For coniferous forest, however, such a relationship was not found. We conclude that an indicator species approach may be useful for resident birds of deciduous forests in hemiboreal Europe, emphasising that it should constitute one of many complementary tools for conservation management. (c) 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved

Published in

Biological Conservation
2006, Volume: 130, number: 1, pages: 134-147

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    Environmental Sciences related to Agriculture and Land-use

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