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Open-File Report 2014-1121

Prepared in cooperation with the University of Arizona, School of Natural Resources and the Environment

Effects of Reintroduced Beaver (Castor canadensis) on Riparian Bird Community Structure along the Upper San Pedro River, Southeastern Arizona and Northern Sonora, Mexico

By Glenn E. Johnson and Charles van Riper III

Thumbnail of and link to report PDF (3.8 MB)Abstracts

Chapter 1.—We measured bird abundance and richness along the upper San Pedro River in 2005 and 2006, in order to document how beavers (Castor canadensis) may act as ecosystem engineers after their reintroduction to a desert riparian area in the Southwestern United States. In areas where beavers colonized, we found higher bird abundance and richness of bird groups, such as all breeding birds, insectivorous birds, and riparian specialists, and higher relative abundance of many individual species—including several avian species of conservation concern.

Chapter 2.—We conducted bird surveys in riparian areas along the upper San Pedro River in southeastern Arizona (United States) and northern Sonora (Mexico) in order to describe factors influencing bird community dynamics and the distribution and abundance of species, particularly those of conservation concern. These surveys were also used to document the effects of the ecosystem-altering activities of a recently reintroduced beavers (Castor canadensis).

Chapter 3.—We reviewed Southwestern Willow Flycatcher (Empidonax traillii extimus) nest records and investigated the potential for future breeding along the upper San Pedro River in southeastern Arizona, where in July 2005 we encountered the southernmost verifiable nest attempt for the species. Continued conservation and management of the area’s riparian vegetation and surface water has potential to contribute additional breeding sites for this endangered Willow Flycatcher subspecies. Given the nest record along the upper San Pedro River and the presence of high-density breeding sites to the north, the native cottonwood-willow forests of the upper San Pedro River could become increasingly important to E. t. extimus recovery, especially considering the anticipated effect of the tamarisk leaf beetle (Diorhabda carinulata) on riparian habitat north of the region.

First posted July 14, 2014

For additional information, contact:
SBSC staff, Southwest Biological Science Center
U.S. Geological Survey
2255 N. Gemini Drive
Flagstaff, AZ 86001

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Suggested citation:

Johnson, Glenn E., and van Riper III, Charles, 2014, Effects of reintroduced beaver (Castor canadensis) on riparian bird community structure along the upper San Pedro River, southeastern Arizona and northern Sonora, Mexico: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2014-1121, 98 p.,

ISSN 2331-1258 (online)


Chapter 1. Bird Abundance and Richness in a Southwestern Desert Riparian Area Following Beaver Reintroduction

Chapter 2. An Investigation of Important Factors Associated with Riparian Bird Community Structure Along the Upper San Pedro River in Southeastern Arizona and Northern Sonora, Mexico: Effects of Reintroduced Beaver

Chapter 3. Southwestern Willow Flycatcher Nest Records and Potential for Future Breeding along the Upper San Pedro River, Arizona

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