Breeding avifauna of mature forest stands in the Borki Forest and its dynamics at the turn of the 21st century
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The composition and structure of the breeding bird community in the Borki Forest in north-eastern Poland were investigated during two separate periods: 1994–1996 and 2012–2014. Bird censuses were carried out in three plots located in mature oak-hornbeam, ash-alder and mixed coniferous forest stands. A standard combined mapping technique for estimating the number of breeding birds was applied. A total of 74 bird species bred at least once within any plot during 1994–1996 or 2012–2014. The structure of the bird assemblages on particular plots displayed a high degree of similarity, exceeding 75%, which means that they represent essentially the same bird community. However, the investigated assemblages have changed substantially over the 20 years. Both, the number of breeding bird species and the population densities on all plots, were much higher in 2012–2014 than in 1994–1996. The mean number of breeding species on all plots was over 50% higher in 2012–2014 than in 1994–1996, whereas the mean total density of breeding pairs increased by more than 60%. Total population densities on the plots increased as a result of an increase in population densities of individual bird species combined with an increase in the number of breeding species. Due to different rates of population growth for certain species, also the composition of dominating species group have changed. The observed changes in the avifauna of the Borki Forest were most probably due to an enrichment of the forest habitats structure, which was caused by natural factors, such as ageing of forest stands, forest succession and a change in water regime by beaver dams, as well as by forest management, including group felling within or in the vicinity of plots and uncovering of the forest edge.
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