Effects of Nonindigenous Plant Species on Bird Communities in Central Texas Periurban Habitats




Kalmbach, Arlene

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Invasive, nonindigenous plants such as red tipped photinia (Photinia seratofolia), waxleaf ligustrum (Ligustrum japonicum), heavenly bamboo (Nandina domestica), pyracantha (Pyracantha coccinea), Japanese honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica), Chinese privet (Ligustrum sinense), Chinaberry tree (Melia azedarach) and Chinese tallow (Triadica sebifera) pose a significant threat to natural vegetative communities and by extension, to avian populations dependent upon native flora. In urban areas of central Texas, nonindigenous plants are widely used for landscaping purposes Consequently, many have naturalized and become invasive, spreading well beyond the manicured yard to infest the few forested green-spaces available to bird communities in this rapidly developing urban area Previous research indicates that nonindigenous plants do not provide native bird populations with necessary cover, forage (plant and insect), vertical profile, branch structure, predator escape, or nesting material This altered habitat 1s also viewed as encouraging use by nonindigenous bird species This research investigated the hypothesis that in Austin, Texas, sites invaded by nonindigenous woody plants species harbor a suite of birds lacking diversity and abundance when compared to areas unaffected by exotic woody vegetation The avian community was surveyed by point count on six study properties within and near Austin, Texas Point count sites were classified a-priori as unimpacted (< 5% canopy cover by nonindigenous species) or impacted (>5% canopy cover by nonindigenous species) Sixty-two species and 1742 indIv1dual bird detections were recorded during the 18 month study Avian species richness for impacted point count sites was 32 with 448 total detections, while species richness at unimpacted point count sites was 59 with 1294 total detections A two factor nonparametric multivariate analysis of variance (habitat x year) revealed significant differences between impact cover type (P = 0 0002), and year (P = 0 0002) There was also a significant cover x year interaction (P = 0 0156) These results identify differences between cover types and differences between study years to the extent that we can conclude that the presence of nonindigenous plant species has a significant influence on avian populations.



birds, alien plants, habitats, Texas


Kalmbach, A. (2006). Effects of nonindigenous plant species on bird communities in Central Texas periurban habitats (Unpublished thesis). Texas State University-San Marcos, San Marcos, Texas.


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