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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

GEOGRAPHIC PATTERNS IN CONNECTICUT'S FOREST BIRD DIVERSITY


The northern hardwood forests of mountainous northeastern Connecticut support  bird communities characteristic of northern New England.

The latest technical publication derived from the Forest Bird Survey of Southern New England is entitled Factors Influencing Geographic Patterns in Diversity of Forest Bird Communities of Eastern Connecticut, USA.  It has been published in the latest edition of the international scientific journal Ecography.  The definitive version may be viewed by journal subscribers here, although we also will post a freely available version to our own Bird Conservation Contributions next year (per our publishing agreement with Ecography).

The study examines the components of diversity- species richness and species evenness (how individuals are distributed among species)- as they vary across nearly a million acres of forested landscape.  It documents that 1) summer richness and populations are roughly equal in northeastern and southeastern Connecticut, whereas in winter both concentrate toward the coast, 2) temperature explained much of winter diversity patterns, but energy-related variables showed little relationship to summer diversity, 3) the effect of habitat on diversity parameters predominated in summer, although their effect was generally weak, 4) contrary to theory, evenness increased from summer to winter, and 5) support for predictions of a branch of ecological theory known as species-energy theory was limited and primarily restricted to winter data.  Although energy and habitat played a role in explaining community patterns, they left much of the variability in regional diversity unexplained, suggesting that, as is predicted by other ecological theories, a large random component to diversity also may exist.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

SYMPOSIUM VOLUME HIGHLIGHTS ENDANGERED SPECIES, ISLAND ECOLOGY AND EVOLUTION

Expedition participants census a colony of Marianas Fruit Bats.

The Institute for Marianas Studies was established in 1992 at Northern Marianas College in the western Pacific.  Its leader, Dr. Robert Craig, used the Institute as the model for establishing Bird Conservation Research, Inc. (BCR)- the New England non-profit foundation that he also directs.  A principal goal of both organizations has been to involve students in performing high level research that yields products of value to local and regional communities.

In the year of its founding, the fledgling Institute embarked upon a multidisciplinary research expedition to the uninhabited and largely unstudied Mariana island of Aguiguan.  The Institute presented its findings the following year in a symposium volume- The Aguiguan Expedition.  Out of print for nearly 20 years, we are making its 11 papers available again through our web site and through Bird Conservation Contributions- BCR's scientific journal.

Papers cover topics from history to geology to natural history, and include works that provide textbook examples of evolution in oceanic island environments.  Three of the papers deal primarily with birds.  The expedition's most notable achievement was re-discovery of the presumed extinct Aguiguan Reed-warbler (Acrocephalus luscinia nijoi).  This open access volume is essentially identical to the original text, although formatting has been altered to conform to the Contributions series' style.