Intensively managed pine (Pinus spp.) forests encompass over 15.8 million hectares in the southeastern United States and provide an important source of wood products and an economic return to landowners. Given the extent of this landscape and the diversity of management goals and stakeholders, understanding how these forests can also be managed for biological diversity is important. Swainson’s warbler (Limnothlypis swainsonii; SWWA), a species of high conservation priority, has been documented occupying young, unthinned pine plantations (a novel habitat type), but demographic assessment is lacking. We compared breeding phenology and reproductive success of SWWA in commercial loblolly pine (Pinus taeda) stands versus bottomland hardwood forest (the historical habitat type). Timing of nesting, clutch size, and hatching rates were not significantly different with 59% (n = 32) of eggs hatching in pine versus 69% in bottomland hardwood (n = 52). Mayfield estimates of nesting success were similar in pine (27%) versus hardwoods (32%) within and across years. These results indicate that closed-canopy, short-rotation pine stands can provide suitable breeding habitat for SWWA. We also review the value of intensively managed pine landscapes for avian conservation in general.
Part of the book: Precious Forests