Adaptive forest management to improve habitats for cerulean warbler
Cerulean Warbler (Dendroica cerulea, Aves: Parulidae) is a Neotropical migratory bird with a declining population. These birds are a focal species of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and listed as Vulnerable to Extinction by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. Thus, the birds properly may be considered to be a conservation reliant species. Since 200 1, the Cerulan Warbler Technical Group has been engaged in investigations and discussions to bring together the appropriate natural history, scientific approach, and management expertise to address the thorny problems posed by a species with declining populations that uses advanced stages in forest succession and mature hardwood forests of eastern North America. The species' predilection to use topographic edges in the central Appalachians further creates potential for conflict between habitat management for the species and mountaintop removal coal mining activities. We are developing a set of adaptable, and adaptive, guidelines for use by silviculturists and other land managers to address objectives of habitat maintenance and production for this species in concert with other management objectives, including timber production. Using data on distribution by forest type, successional stage, and stand stocking information, we describe Cerulean Warbler habitats and suggest certain silvicultural practices that we believe will benefit the species in different forest types. We further describe an on-going large-scale silvicultural experiment and other field tests in which these suggested practices and others are being evaluated to assess their utility as producers of habitat for the species.