Publication Date


Document Type


Committee Members

Volker Bahn (Committee Member), David Goldstein (Other), Jeffrey Peters (Committee Member), Thomas Rooney (Advisor)

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Quantifying changes in forest avian diversity is a challenging, but necessary task for development of effective conservation plans. While small changes in diversity accumulate over time, these changes do not necessarily reflect overall long-term trends in species diversity. Long-term changes from established baseline conditions may be more interpretable because the changes in diversity are assessed over longer periods. In 1978, Dr. Reed Noss (1981) initiated a study of thirty-three breeding bird censuses at Sugarcreek Reserve (Metropark) in Southwestern Ohio and evaluated the species richness and composition during the breeding and post-breeding season to inform ecological reserve design theory. In 2010, I replicated Noss' study to examine temporal changes in forest breeding bird communities at Sugarcreek to determine how avifauna diversity, species richness, and community composition have changed since 1978. Rarefaction analysis was used to compare species richness in 1978 and 2010. Individual species were classified as residents (present year-round) and migrants, and these groups were treated in separate analyses. In addition, a spearman rank correlation was used to compare changes in species abundance at Sugarcreek with statewide trends for Ohio. In 1978, Noss (1981) observed 7,609 individuals representing seventy-seven species, but in 2010 using the same protocol and intensity of sampling, I observed 6,445 individuals representing sixty-three species. Rarefaction analysis revealed declines in overall richness, and Shannon-Weiner analysis indicated declines in species diversity. This decline was most pronounced for migratory species. The decline in migrants observed at Sugarcreek mirror declines of migrants elsewhere in Ohio and eastern North America. Sugarcreek might represent a microcosm for the state of Ohio for studying temporal changes in breeding bird diversity and community composition.

Page Count


Department or Program

Department of Biological Sciences

Year Degree Awarded


Included in

Biology Commons