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The efficacy of common species as indicators: avian responses to disturbance in British Columbia, Canada


Koch, AJ and Drever, MC and Martin, K, The efficacy of common species as indicators: avian responses to disturbance in British Columbia, Canada, Biodiversity and Conservation, 20, (14) pp. 3555-3575. ISSN 0960-3115 (2011) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2011 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.

DOI: doi:10.1007/s10531-011-0148-3


Common species can be major drivers of species richness patterns and make major contributions to biomass and ecosystem function, and thus should be important targets for conservation efforts. However, it is unclear how common species respond to disturbance, because the underlying reasons for their commonness may buffer or amplify their responses to disturbance. To assess how well common species reflect changes in their community (and thus function as indicator species), we studied 58 bird species in 19 mixed conifer patches in northern British Columbia, Canada, between 1998 and 2010. During this time period two disturbance events occurred, stand level timber harvest and a regional-scale bark beetle outbreak. We examined relationships among densities of individual species, total bird density and overall species richness, correlations in abundance among species, and responses to disturbance events. We found three broad patterns. First, densities of common species corresponded more strongly with changes in total bird density and overall species richness than rare species. These patterns were non-linear and species with intermediate-high commonness showed similar or better correspondence than the most common species. Second, common species tended to be more strongly correlated with abundances of all other species in the community than less-common species, although on average correlations among species were weak. Third, ecological traits (foraging guild, migratory status) were better predictors of responses to disturbance than species commonness. These results suggest that common species can collectively be used to reflect changes in the overall community, but that whenever possible monitoring programs should be extended to include species of intermediate-high commonness and representatives from different ecological guilds.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:community indicators, disturbance, harvesting, indicator species, monitoring, mountain pine beetle
Research Division:Environmental Sciences
Research Group:Environmental management
Research Field:Wildlife and habitat management
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Terrestrial systems and management
Objective Field:Terrestrial biodiversity
UTAS Author:Koch, AJ (Ms Amelia Koch)
ID Code:117204
Year Published:2011
Web of Science® Times Cited:19
Deposited By:Zoology
Deposited On:2017-06-02
Last Modified:2017-09-04

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