Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Rush, Scott A.

Committee Member

Evans, Kristine O.

Committee Member

Greene, Daniel U.

Committee Member

Colvin, Michael E.

Committee Member

Hunt, Kevin M.

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access


Forest Resources

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D)


College of Forest Resources


Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture


Within managed pine forest systems, a plethora of bird species exist throughout the lifecycle of a stand akin to what may be experienced through post-disturbance regeneration in a natural forest system. I sought to address how breeding avian communities shift across time in response to stand aging and forest management, evaluate species-specific responses to stand conditions, investigate the responses of at-risk avian species to forest management, and determine avian non-breeding, over-wintering presence in a managed loblolly pine (Pinus taeda) forest. I conducted breeding bird point count and vegetation surveys within five stands of privately owned and managed pine forest in Mississippi, each of which was split into quadrants with different management strategies implemented. I designed and executed night surveys for Chuck-will’s-widow (Antrostomus carolinensis). Lastly, I conducted winter bird banding to explore over-wintering diversity, dietary isotope assimilation, and parasite prevalence. I found evidence that the avian community shifted in response to forest stage and structure, with differences created by management practices and forest succession. Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) intercropping allowed some grassland and early successional species to remain in forest stands with closing canopies longer than in plots with standard management, with few diversity differences between treatments. Abundance of Chuck-will’s-widow was found to relate positively with the percent cover of early successional forest stands, those which were recently harvested and replanted and were in a pine-grassland state. Over-wintering bird species richness remained relatively low, and capture rates were consistently greatest in a young open canopy stand, which contained a higher level of vegetation structure and plant abundance when compared to three older stands. This represents a limited number of studies where investigations into bird community responses to forest management took place in the same forest stands across a long temporal period. Managers in forest systems should consider the implications of management undertaken at different stages in the rotational lifetime of a forest stand. To focus on conservation of priority bird species, managers should increase heterogeneity by maintaining or creating pine-grassland and early successional forest conditions within forest stands while also ensuring stands of various ages exist concurrently within the forest ecosystem.


Weyerhaeuser Company, National Council for Air and Stream Improvement (NACSI)