Complex Responses of Songbirds to Soil Acidification of Managed Beech Forests in Central Europe

Publication Type:Journal Article
Year of Publication:2007
Authors:Schlender, M, Skibbe, A, KAPPES, HEIKE, Topp, W
Journal:Ecosystems
Volume:10
Issue:4
Date Published:2007
ISBN Number:14329840
Keywords:Erithacus, Erithacus rubecula, Fringilla, Fringilla coelebs, Fringillidae, Muscicapidae, Paridae, Parus, Parus ater, Periparus, Periparus ater, Phylloscopidae, Phylloscopus, Phylloscopus collybita, Sitta, Sitta europaea, Sittidae, Turdidae, Turdus, Turdus maximus, Turdus merula, Turdus philomelos
Abstract:Many forest ecosystems have been extensively degraded by acidifying pollutants over the last decades. There is also widespread concern about population decline of a number of songbirds due to acidification-driven calcium limitation. We hypothesize that the carrying capacity of forests decreases with reduced soil calcium content. We analyzed songbird assemblage/habitat relationships by territory mapping at 30 sites in a total of five managed beech forests. The sites harbored 38 songbird species. A canonical correspondence analysis showed that soil acidification, represented by soil calcium content, had a significant influence on the species assemblages of the 14 most frequent songbirds. The vertical complexity of the canopy additionally influenced the assemblages. Multiple regressions revealed that the density of the territories of song thrush (Turdus philomelos) and nuthatch (Sitta europaea) were positively correlated to calcium content. Blackbirds (Turdus merula) seemed to compensate for the negative effect of acidification by selecting breeding sites close to forest edges to forage in less acidified agricultural habitats. In contrast, the territorial density of robin (Erithacus rubecula), chaffinch (Phylloscopus collybita) and coal tit (Parus ater) increased with increasing soil acidification. Contrary to our hypothesis, the overall carrying capacity of songbird was not reduced in forests with acidified soils. However, the nesting success of song thrush and blackbird, as determined by the number of fledglings, was higher in the forest with the highest calcium content when compared to the forest with the lowest calcium content. We conclude that some species are severely affected by acidification, whereas others seem to have evolved successful strategies to meet their calcium demand even in acidified habitats.
URL:http://www.jstor.org/stable/27823703
Short Title:Ecosystems
Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith