Farming inside forests hurts bird communities more than timber harvesting, study suggests

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Farming in and around forests hurts bird populations more than does timber harvesting, according to a study by a researcher at Ohio State University. The study suggests that farming may make bird nests more vulnerable to predation by squirrels and other animals.

Amanda D. Rodewald, assistant professor of wildlife ecology in the School of Natural Resources, also found that forests with agricultural clearings in them had a lower diversity of bird species and fewer birds than forests in which pockets of tree cover had been cleared by timber harvesting.

"A farm patch in the forest may be more damaging to birds than a clearing left by just the felling of trees," said Rodewald, who did the study in collaboration with Richard H. Yahner, a professor of wildlife ecology at Penn State University. The researchers published their work in a recent issue of the journal Ecology. Rodewald said the results of the study could help make more informed decisions on strategies for conservation and forest management.

"Some parks and forests will allow small agricultural openings within them. Those are the types of management policies that we need to start reconsidering," Rodewald said. "It's not enough to say there are a lot of forests,

Contact: Amanda Rodewald
Ohio State University

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