Avian breeding season diversity and community composition in Camden white gum and slash pine plantations.
In the southern United States, some landowners have established plantations of eucalyptus (Eucalyptus spp.) and are managing them on short rotations (<15 years) to provide wood for fiber and other potential uses. Establishment of short-rotation woody crops dominated by nonnative species has implications for resident fauna in the United States that are largely unknown. We compared avifauna abundance, diversity, and community composition in newly established Camden white gum (Eucalyptus benthamii) plantations with slash pine (Pinus elliottii) plantations of the same age and height (one to two and six to seven years old, respectively) in southwestern Louisiana, USA. Species richness, diversity, and community composition in newly established eucalyptus plantations and six- to seven-year-old pines were similar. More birds were observed, and bird detections varied less in eucalyptus plantations. Indigo buntings (Passerina cyanea) and other shrub-associated species were detected more often in eucalyptus stands. In contrast, species that inhabit herbaceous-dominated communities, such as eastern meadowlarks (Sturnella magna), or that were associated with a dense graminoid community (e.g., Bachman's sparrow [Peucaea aestivalis]) were detected less often in eucalyptus. Overall, breeding bird communities in eucalyptus plantations one to two years postestablishment differed little from plantations dominated by slash pine.