We investigated how the population dynamics of the same bird species varied in different environments, and how the population dynamics of different species varied in the same environment, by calculating long-term population trends for 59 insectivorous songbird species in 22 regions or strata of eastern and central North America using data from the North American Breeding Bird Survey. Of the 47 species that occurred in more than one region 77% increased in some regions and declined in others. Of the 22 regions 91% had some species that increased and others that decreased. There were only slightly more significant correlations between strata in species trends and between species for stratum trends than would be expected by chance. Because of nonlinearities in the data, the actual patterns of population fluctuations of the same species in different regions and of different species in the same region were even more heterogeneous than suggested by our analyses of linear trends. We conclude that these bird species respond to spatial and temporal variation in their environment in a very individualistic fashion. These individualistic responses show that the extrapolation of population trends gained from a few local studies to a larger spatial scale, and the use of a few indicator species to monitor the status of a broader community, are suspect.
Oecologia – Springer Journals
Published: Apr 1, 1995
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