Non-native plants have overtaken large areas in recent decades. These introduced plants may not be compatible with the local food chain, impacting insects and the birds that feed on them. Birds are some of our most beautiful and beloved faunas, but many species are now in decline. To investigate a possible link between bird and plant populations in north Georgia, we conducted avian surveys in 12 ha of forest over the course of a year. Approximately 4 ha this plot is dominated by non-native plants with the rest primarily native, an ideal location for our study. To quantify bird density and diversity in the plot, we conducted five-minute point counts every 2 weeks at 12 locations spaced 100m apart. We recorded each bird heard or seen within 50m. On alternating weeks, we collected observations of bird behavior in the research area. For each observation, we recorded the bird species, height in canopy, the plant occupied, and the type of behavior. Our focus was foraging, defined as eating or seeking food. Finally, we quantified the nature of the plant community at 27 points, located on a 50m spacing grid. Measurements included canopy density, number of trees (>8cm dbh) and groundcover within an 11m radius. We used a smaller, 5m, radius to count stems (<8cm dbh). We calculated Shannon indices for the avian data and will initially use principal component analysis to determine correlations between the plant and avian communities. We hope that these results will shed light on the effects of the non-native vegetation now covering parts of our campus and contribute to the greater body of research related to the effects of invasive species on local flora and fauna.


UNG Department of Biology for funding and instruction. Georgann Schmalz of Birding Adventures Inc and Charlie Muise of PANO Power of flight for bird identification training. Mark Warren of Medicine Bow School and Dr. Tom Diggs of UNG for plant identification training.

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