The University of Arizona

Breeding bird responses to juniper woodland expansion.

S.S. Rosenstock, C. III. Van Riper


In recent times, pinyon (Pinus spp.)-juniper (Juniperus spp.) woodlands have expanded into large portions of the Southwest historically occupied by grassland vegetation. From 1997-1998, we studied responses of breeding birds to one-seed juniper (J. monosperma) woodland expansion at 2 grassland study areas in northern Arizona. We sampled breeding birds in 3 successional stages along a grassland-woodland gradient: un-invaded grassland, grassland undergoing early stages of juniper establishment, and developing woodland. Species composition varied greatly among successional stages and was most different between endpoints of the gradient. Ground-nesting grassland species predominated in uninvaded grassland but declined dramatically as tree density increased. Tree- and cavity-nesting species increased with tree density and were most abundant in developing woodland. Restoration of juniper-invaded grasslands will benefit grassland-obligate birds and other wildlife.



wild birds;pinyon-juniper;frequency;grasslands;species diversity;ecological succession;woodlands;establishment;botanical composition;Pinus;Juniperus;Arizona

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