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WWRC 86-05v
Similarities in Riparian Bird Communities Among Elevation Zones in Southeasten Wyoming


I examined trends in bird species richness and overall bird abundance in riparian habitats among elevations varying from 6740 ft to 9800 ft. in southeastern Wyoming. Bird species diversity ranged from a low of three bird species and 23 pairs in subalpine shrub willow habitat to a maximum of 21 species and 101 pairs in lowland cottonwood habitat. Bird communities were less diverse at higher elevations probably because of the reduced vegetational complexity and increased environmental severity at high elevations. Few bird species found in subalpine riparian habitats contained unique (but depauperate) avifaunas. Despite loss of a tree overstory, bird species composition on mid-elevation shrub sites was more similar to lowland cottwood habitats than to subalpine shrub areas. Similarity in bird species composition was greatest within elevational zones. Based on these results, general recommendations for managing riparian habitats in different elevational zones are offered.

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