In 2018 a US BLM funded study was initiated to assess changes in avian community structure and species density among pinyon-juniper stands that have or are undergoing prescribed thinning at the BLM Fort Stanton-Snowy River Cave National Conservation Area in New Mexico. While that study will provide information on avian community structure response to prescribed thinning, it is not addressing how such changes may manifest in reproductive effort and output. For example, some species may persist in treated areas, but reproductive output is higher or lower than untreated stands. This translates to long-term persistence, recruitment and, ultimately, potential changes in community structure.
This study will address those questions as to changes in nest site selection and nest survival among the avian community in the treated and untreated pinyon-juniper woodlands, and will serve as a complimentary project to the aforementioned ongoing BLM funded study. It will build on data already collected in 2019, and add two additional years of data collection. In 2019, over 150 nests were located and monitored, but increased sample sizes are needed for robust analysis of species specific differences in nest survival or nest site selection between treatment types. The resulting data will better inform land and wildlife managers on what level of thinning and removal provide the maximum benefit for avian communities and meet the broader objectives to restore grass and woodland habitats in New Mexico and across this habitat type in the Southwest United States.