Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
Monitoring the health of riparian ecosystems involves the measurement of several different variables. For example, channel characteristics and vegetation age-class distribution are currently evaluated under the Proper Functioning Condition process (TR 1737-9, BLM, 1993). Additional monitoring to assess the occurrence of riparian obligate or dependent bird species will provide a fuller picture of ecosystem health. Experience on the San Pedro River in Arizona shows that the Common Yellowthroat and Song Sparrow, among other species, are excellent indicators of ecosystem recovery following the cessation of livestock grazing (see graph).
|Populations of five riparian obligate species increased dramatically on the San Pedro River in Arizona following the complete removal of livestock.|
Those monitoring riparian systems can readily learn the distinctive songs of species that should be present and thereby help assess the health of riparian vegetation. Some good indicators, such as the Song Sparrow, are widespread and still reasonably common. Others, such as the Willow Flycatcher, require conservation action now to prevent further losses of habitat and population numbers (see table).
Although a large number of bird species use riparian vegetation at some time during the year, it is possible to define two sub-groups of landbird species that are especially reliant on riparian habitats during the breeding season.
Bureau of Land Management. No date. Birds as indicators of riparian vegetation condition in the western U.S. Bureau of Land Management, Partners in Flight, Boise, Idaho. BLM/ID/PT-98/004+6635. Unpaginated.This resource should be cited as:
Bureau of Land Management. No date. Birds as indicators of riparian vegetation condition in the western U.S. Bureau of Land Management, Partners in Flight, Boise, Idaho. BLM/ID/PT-98/004+6635. Jamestown, ND: Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center Online. http://www.npwrc.usgs.gov/resource/birds/ripveg/index.htm (Version 15DEC98).