FOREST ECOLOGY AND MANAGEMENT, vol.336, pp.137-147, 2015 (SCI-Expanded)
The Mediterranean basin exhibits a multitude of forest habitats affected by former and current exploitation and management. Recent afforestation programs have resulted in an increase in the proportion of coniferous trees, while oak stands, formerly utilized for coppicing and grazing, are abandoned or converted into coniferous plantations. The loss of oak stands might negatively affect birds dependent upon broadleaved forests. Studies confirming or rejecting that statement are scarce, particularly in the eastern part of the region. Using a study area in southwestern Turkey we applied a guild-based approach to investigate how pine and oak stands across a chronosequence differ in their capacity to support forest bird assemblages. Variables describing the vegetation were sampled to characterize the stands and relate bird assemblages to stand structure. Bird abundance and species richness was positively associated with age for both stand types. Richness and diversity was highest in oak stands, while there were no differences in bird abundance between the two forest types. Pine stands supported a different bird species composition compared to oak stands of the same age. Stand age and structure, rather than forest type, held the highest explanatory powers for bird assembly structure. Primary cavity-nesters and ground-nesters were more abundant in oak stands, possibly reflecting differences in stand structure and resource distribution. To support these birds with suitable habitats, oaks stands need conservation. Management practices in pine stands should strive for increasing the amount of old trees and retain vegetation in the understory to benefit breeding birds. (C) 2014 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.