desert birds


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Changes in plant composition have the potential to cause disturbances in both structure and function throughout the ecosystem. One element of the ecosystem that can be affected is bird diversity and behavior. Certain species of birds depend more, or entirely, on habitats containing specific functional groups or species of vegetation. Habitat preferences in birds develop because of factors such as availability of food, nesting and perching locations, and cover.  Certain species of birds may be generalists while others use a small variety of plants due to strict habitat requirements. In this study we examine how different growth types of plants affect bird abundance, bird species diversity, and bird activity on the Jornada Basin. The experiment took place on the Biodiversity plots (25m X 25m)at the New Mexico State University Chihuahuan Desert Rangeland Research Center from June through August 1997. The site contained 6 blocks, each containing 8 treatments, including: control, perennial grass removal, reduced Larrea cover, reduced Prosopis cover, shrub removal, only a single dominant species of each growth form remaining, subshrubs removal, and succulents removal. The following data were recorded in each plot: species type, time spent in plot, type of vegetation utilized, presence of a pair or family group, and behavior. Behaviors recorded included perching, singing, calling, foraging on the ground, foraging in the vegetation, nesting , and preening. Birds were observed in each plot for periods of 35 minutes with a 10 minute acclimation period prior to the start of the observation period. The replications were done according to a predetermined schedule which was developed in such a manner so as to reduce sampling error as much as possible. This study is complete.

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Bird Species Codes

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