HABITAT USE AND THE EFFECTS OF DISTURBANCE ON WINTERING BIRDS USING RIPARIAN HABITATS IN SONORA, MEXICO
Anthropogenic disturbance has imposed significant changes in riparian habitats, and is known to have negative effects on biological communities. To assess the effects of human induced disturbance on wintering bird communities, I recorded community composition, relative abundance of species, and three indicators of bird condition in relatively undisturbed and highly disturbed sites at three river systems in Sonora. There is, in general, little effect of disturbance on the composition of wintering communities, with less than 20% of the most common species having significant differences in their abundances between relatively undisturbed and highly disturbed sites. Condition indicators were similar in the two disturbance levels, but the mean heterophil/lymphocyte ratio in the blood of sampled birds showed increased levels of physiological stress in disturbed sites. A more experimental approach is needed to determine the specific cause of the stress expression in leucocytes.
Modification of natural flooding regimes has modified riparian areas, as has been the case in the Colorado River Delta. I present a summary of the changes experienced by riparian systems and some of the measures implemented for riparian restoration in the southwestern United States, and then I compare the scenario with that in central Sonora, where some of the same stressors exist on riparian systems, but where traditional management practices have also mitigated some of the negative consequences of flow control along mid-sized river systems.
Advisor:Richard L. Hutto
School:The University of Montana
School Location:USA - Montana
Source Type:Master's Thesis
Keywords:division of biological sciences
Date of Publication:03/28/2007