Canadian Forest Service Publications

Elevated numbers of flying insects and insectivorous birds in riparian buffer strips. 2000. Whitaker, D.M.; Carroll, A.L.; Montevecchi, W.A. Canadian Journal of Zoology 78: 740-747.

Year: 2000

Issued by: Pacific Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 19545

Language: English

Availability: PDF (request by e-mail)

Mark record


We compared the abundances of flying insects along undisturbed lakeshores and riparian buffer strips in balsam fir (Abies balsamea) forests in western Newfoundland. Insects were collected in pan traps placed on the forest floor and tanglefoot (sticky) traps suspended within the live canopy. Significantly greater numbers of insects were captured in riparian buffer strips than in undisturbed shorelines for four of five size classes in the canopy and two of five size classes in the understory. Collections were dominated by adult Diptera and Hymenoptera. Mean capture rates along buffer strips were 120-200% of the mean capture rates along undisturbed shorelines. This increase was greatest for large-bodied insects. A likely explanation for our observations is that buffer strips act as windbreaks, collecting airborne insects blown in from adjacent clearcuts and lakes. This phenomenon has been widely documented in agricultural landscapes. Understory wind speed was generally greater along buffer strips than controls, which is a reflection of increased exposure caused by clear-cutting. A concurrent parallel study conducted at the same sites investigated the effects of riparian buffering on breeding bird assemblages. Ubiquitous insectivorous birds, including the yellow-rumped warbler (Dendroica coronata) and blackpoll warbler (Dendroica striata), were more abundant along buffer strips than undisturbed shorelines, possibly in response to increased prey availability. Increased food availability may in part explain the high numbers of insectivorous birds typically observed in riparian buffer strips in boreal forests.