Regional Forest Fragmentation and the Nesting Success of Migratory Birds

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Science  31 Mar 1995:
Vol. 267, Issue 5206, pp. 1987-1990
DOI: 10.1126/science.267.5206.1987


Forest fragmentation, the disruption in the continuity of forest habitat, is hypothesized to be a major cause of population decline for some species of forest birds because fragmentation reduces nesting (reproductive) success. Nest predation and parasitism by cowbirds increased with forest fragmentation in nine midwestern (United States) landscapes that varied from 6 to 95 percent forest cover within a 10-kilometer radius of the study areas. Observed reproductive rates were low enough for some species in the most fragmented landscapes to suggest that their populations are sinks that depend for perpetuation on immigration from reproductive source populations in landscapes with more extensive forest cover. Conservation strategies should consider preservation and restoration of large, unfragmented "core" areas in each region.