The results from the 2007 INL BBS were similar to
previous years where shrub-steppe and grassland bird species
dominated the observations. The total bird observations (n = 5412)
and species richness (n = 69) from all routes is above the INL
average since 1985. Following common patterns of abundance from
previous INL BBS, horned larks were the most abundant species
followed by western meadowlark, Brewer’s sparrow, sage sparrow, and
sage thrasher. These five species are continually among the most
abundant detected during these surveys, and considering that these
species are declining in other parts of their range, the habitat
quality on the INL appears to remains high. Four species (greater
scaup, bald eagle, osprey, and turkey vulture) were recorded for the
first time during this year’s survey. The INL continues to support
species of special concern and this year six species (greater
sage-grouse, ferruginous hawk, long-billed curlew, Franklin’s gull,
Brewer’s sparrow, and grasshopper sparrow) listed by the State of
Idaho as imperiled or critically imperiled were documented on site.
Future Data Analysis
With over two decades of BBS data, long-term INL-specific
species trend analysis should be conducted for each species. Past
reports have provided details regarding particular species, but no
effort has been made to consider a comprehensive analysis of all BBS
observation data from the INL. Before the complete dataset can be
analyzed, all of the data have to be organized into a single
database. Since the INL BBS surveys have been conducted by different
organizations since 1985, database formats and file naming
conventions vary. We will be organizing all INL BBS during 2008 to
facilitate a more in depth analysis to be included in next year’s
Landscape Change and Habitat Variation
The habitat and vegetation communities across the
INL are a diverse mosaic of sagebrush-steppe habitat. The INL has
experienced some large natural disturbances (e.g. wildfire) which
have caused changes in vegetation community composition and
distribution across the site. It is not well understood how bird
populations respond to alterations of habitat composition and
distribution across the landscape (Knick and Rotenberry 2002), and
habitat fragmentation can influence local population dynamics. Local
bird populations and community assemblages can show a response to
these habitat changes, and the long-term BBS data should reflect
these changes. We will investigate the patterns of habitat change in
conjunction with changes in observed bird abundance and richness
Diversity indices have not been calculated each year
and a useful comparison would be to calculate Shannon’s H and
EH for all BBS routes from all years to assess
which routes have experience significant change in bird community
abundance. The initial community diversity results reported above
consider community differences between different routes in the same
year. It is unknown how diversity on the same route has changed over
time. A number of community similarity indices, such as Morisita’s
index (Morisita 1959) or percent similarity, can be calculated to
address this question. We anticipate coupling the results from the
spatial analysis described above with the results from community
diversity change over time to present a comprehensive description of
how bird communities have changed on the INL since 1985.
We would like to thank Sue Vilord for conducting the
surveys this year and providing training and suggestions for future
INL BBS. We also thank Neil Hukari (NOAA/ARLFRD) for providing the
weather data summaries from the CFA.
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