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The Auk


Department of Biological Sciences


We examined the changes in abundance between 1969 and 1986 of 19 forest-dwelling, mostly migratory bird species breeding in New Hampshire at 2 different scales: one local (an intensively studied 10-ha plot in unfragmented forest) and the other regional (Breeding Bird Surveys statewide). Twelve of the 19 species exhibited similar trends at both scales. Eight neither increased nor decreased, and 4 (Least Flycatcher, Winter Wren, Wood Thrush, and Swainsoh's Thrush) declined significantly. Others increased, decreased, or re-mained steady at one or the other scale. Overall, more species declined than increased both locally (8 vs. 1) and regionally (5 vs. 1). Comparisons of these patterns, combined with results of intensive studies at the local level, suggest that changes in food abundance and in vege-tation structure related to forest succession on the breeding grounds, along with other pro-cesses that influence bird reproductive success and survivorship, are the most plausible explanations for most of the observed trends. Winter mortality was also identified as affecting breeding abundances, but only in short-distance migrant and permanently resident species. We have no evidence to indicate that the numbers of long-distance migrants were affected by events in their Neotropical wintering areas, although this possibility is difficult to assess from breeding-ground data. We urge caution in attributing declines of breeding forest migrant birds to tropical deforestation or similar causes until we either can eliminate alternate explanations that involve breeding-season events or have available critically needed demo-graphic information on migrant populations in their wintering areas.