Date of Original Version
Natural Resources Science
In many regions of the world, forest management has reduced old forest and simplified forest structure and composition. We hypothesized that such forest degradation has resulted in long-term habitat loss for forest-associated bird species of eastern Canada (130,017 km2) which, in turn, has caused bird-population declines. Despite little change in overall forest cover, we found substantial reductions in old forest as a result of frequent clear-cutting and a broad-scale transformation to intensified forestry. Back-cast species distribution models revealed that breeding habitat loss occurred for 66% of the 54 most common species from 1985 to 2020 and was strongly associated with reduction in old age classes. Using a long-term, independent dataset, we found that habitat amount predicted population size for 94% of species, and habitat loss was associated with population declines for old-forest species. Forest degradation may therefore be a primary cause of biodiversity decline in managed forest landscapes.
Publication Title, e.g., Journal
Nature Ecology & Evolution
Betts, M.G., Yang, Z., Hadley, A.S. et al. Forest degradation drives widespread avian habitat and population declines. Nat Ecol Evol 6, 709–719 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41559-022-01737-8
Available at: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41559-022-01737-8
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