Building wood debris piles benefits avian seed dispersers in burned and logged Mediterranean pine forests

Salvage logging is a common practice carried out in burned forests worldwide, and intended to mitigate the economic losses caused by wildfires. Logging implies an additional disturbance occurring shortly after fire, although its ecological effects can be somewhat mitigated by leaving wood debris on site. The composition of the bird community and its capacity to provide ecosystem services such as seed dispersal of fleshy-fruited plants have been shown to be affected by postfire logging. We assessed the effects of the habitat structure resulting from different postfire management practices on the bird community, in three burned pine forests in Catalonia (western Mediterranean). For this purpose, we focused on the group of species that is responsible for seed dispersal, a process which takes place primarily during the winter in the Mediterranean basin. In addition, we assessed microhabitat selection by seed disperser birds in such environments in relation to management practices. Our results showed a significant, positive relationship between the density of wood debris piles and the abundance of seed disperser birds. Furthermore, such piles were the preferred microhabitat of these species. This reveals an important effect of forest management on seed disperser birds, which is likely to affect the dynamics of bird-dependent seed dispersal. Thus, building wood debris piles can be a useful practice for the conservation of both the species and their ecosystem services, while also being compatible with timber harvesting ​
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