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Creators/Authors contains: "Betts, Matthew G."

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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available March 6, 2024
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  5. Abstract In many regions of the world, forest management has reduced old forest and simplified forest structure and composition. We hypothesized that such forest degradation has resulted in long-term habitat loss for forest-associated bird species of eastern Canada (130,017 km 2 ) which, in turn, has caused bird-population declines. Despite little change in overall forest cover, we found substantial reductions in old forest as a result of frequent clear-cutting and a broad-scale transformation to intensified forestry. Back-cast species distribution models revealed that breeding habitat loss occurred for 66% of the 54 most common species from 1985 to 2020 and was strongly associated with reduction in old age classes. Using a long-term, independent dataset, we found that habitat amount predicted population size for 94% of species, and habitat loss was associated with population declines for old-forest species. Forest degradation may therefore be a primary cause of biodiversity decline in managed forest landscapes.
  6. Free, publicly-accessible full text available March 22, 2024
  7. Many ecologists have lamented the demise of natural history and have attributed this decline to a misguided view that natural history is outdated and unscientific. Although there is a perception that the focus in ecology and conservation have shifted away from descriptive natural history research and training toward hypothetico-deductive research, we argue that natural history has entered a new phase that we call “next-generation natural history.” This renaissance of natural history is characterized by technological and statistical advances that aid in collecting detailed observations systematically over broad spatial and temporal extents. The technological advances that have increased exponentially in the last decade include electronic sensors such as camera-traps and acoustic recorders, aircraft- and satellite-based remote sensing, animal-borne biologgers, genetics and genomics methods, and community science programs. Advances in statistics and computation have aided in analyzing a growing quantity of observations to reveal patterns in nature. These robust next-generation natural history datasets have transformed the anecdotal perception of natural history observations into systematically collected observations that collectively constitute the foundation for hypothetico-deductive research and can be leveraged and applied to conservation and management. These advances are encouraging scientists to conduct and embrace detailed descriptions of nature that remain a critically importantmore »component of the scientific endeavor. Finally, these next-generation natural history observations are engaging scientists and non-scientists alike with new documentations of the wonders of nature. Thus, we celebrate next-generation natural history for encouraging people to experience nature directly.« less
  8. Free, publicly-accessible full text available October 25, 2023
  9. The Northwest Forest Plan (NWFP) initiated one of the most sweeping changes to forest management in the world, affecting 10 million hectares of federal land. The NWFP is a science-based plan incorporating monitoring and adaptive management and provides a unique opportunity to evaluate the influence of policy. We used >25 years of region-wide bird surveys, forest data, and land-ownership maps to test this policy’s effect on biodiversity. Clearcutting decreased rapidly, and we expected populations of older-forest–associated birds to stabilize on federal land, but to continue declining on private industrial lands where clearcutting continued. In contrast, we expected declines in early-seral–associated species on federal land because of reduced anthropogenic disturbance since the NWFP. Bayesian hierarchical models revealed that bird species’ population trends tracked changes in forest composition. However, against our expectations, declines of birds associated with older forests accelerated. These declines are partly explained by losses of older forests due to fire on federal land and continued clearcutting elsewhere. Indeed, the NWFP anticipated that reversing declines of older forests would take time. Overall, the early-seral ecosystem area was stable, but declined in two ecoregions—the Coast Range and Cascades—along with early-seral bird populations. Although the NWFP halted clearcutting on federal land, thismore »has so far been insufficient to reverse declines in older-forest–associated bird populations. These findings underscore the importance of continuing to prioritize older forests under the NWFP and ensuring that the recently proposed creation of early-seral ecosystems does not impede the conservation and development of older-forest structure.

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