Birds of Indian Subcontinent

Effects of a Transmission Line on Bird Populations in the Red Lake Peatland, Northern Minnesota

Publication Type:Journal Article
Year of Publication:1984
Authors:Niemi, GJ, Hanowski, JM
Journal:The Auk
Date Published:1984
ISBN Number:00048038
Keywords:Cistothorus platensis, Oporornis agilis, Troglodytes, Troglodytes troglodytes, Troglodytidae
Abstract:The effects of a 500-kV transmission line on bird populations were assessed by comparing paired treatment areas [which included a transmission line and right-of-way (ROW)] with similar control areas in six different habitat types during the breeding and migration seasons. Habitat structure was measured to examine the inherent differences between control and treatment areas. Using two census methods, territorial mapping and transect counts, we determined that Sedge Wrens and LeConte's Sparrows had lower breeding-population densities in treatment areas than in control areas. LeConte's Sparrows and Connecticut Warblers occurred at greater mean distances from the transmission line in treatment areas than from a similarly positioned line in control areas. Fifteen paired t-tests (five habitats in 3 yr), in which territorial mapping data were used, revealed that community densities were lower in one treatment habitat (high shrub) in 1 of 3 yr (P < 0.05). A two-way analysis of variance with transect counts, however, was not confirmatory when yearly variation was included. Transect counts revealed lower population densities in one treatment habitat (low shrub) in 2 of 3 yr (P < 0.05). In contrast, we observed greater species richness (P < 0.05) in two treatment habitats (closed spruce and sedge fen) than in controls. Treatment habitats were most similar in habitat structure to their paired control habitats, but each habitat of the pair was significantly different (P < 0.05) from the other in at least 2 of 10 habitat characteristics analyzed. We suggest that the avian differences observed between paired areas were primarily attributable to (1) the inherent habitat differences between control and treatment areas, and (2) the new habitat created under the transmission line. Our data indicated negligible effects of this transmission line on bird populations, but interpretations are difficult, because the effects varied with (1) habitat, (2) season, and (3) method considered. Postimpact studies, which compare control and treatment areas, are less effective than before-and-after studies, because differences in habitat structure exist between any two areas.
Short Title:The Auk
Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith