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CERW and Associated Species Response to Silvicultural Prescriptions

Cerulean silvercultural prescription sites; map by Todd Fearer.
A team of researchers is expanding on the Cerulean Warbler Management Guidelines for Enhancing Breeding Habitat in Appalachian Hardwood Forests by evaluating Cerulean Warbler response to a range of forest management treatments recommended by the guidelines. The goal is to recommend ways to improve or broaden the existing management guidelines for the Cerulean Warbler and associated bird species in Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia.

The current guidelines are based largely on applying forest management in a highly controlled, landscape-level experimental study that applied three levels of harvest (light, medium, and heavy) to isolated stands within mature forest. While informative, this approach is not typical of standard forest management strategies. This follow-up project is coordinating with state wildlife agencies and USFS to examine a more realistic application of harvests and subsequent avian responses. Use of shelterwood-style harvests are being integrated into a mosaic of other silvicultural treatments (such as clearcuts, selective, and variable retention harvests) at 12 sites on state and federal lands in Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia.

Data collection on bird response will continue into 2016, pending availability of funding. Data analysis is ongoing and completion of the project is expected in June 2016, unless funding is obtained for an additional year of data collection. The goal is to update and expand the current Cerulean management guidelines and publish them after the completion of the project.