Conserving Shrublands, Conserving Species Wildlife found in shrubland habitats Many wildlife species use shrublands, including those listed below. Be on the look-out for these species. You can follow stewardship guidelines toNew England Cottontail help maintain and enhance their habitat. All of the species listed below have been categorized as Species of Greatest Conservation Need by the New York DRAFT—New England cottontail rabbits preferdense thickets such as overgrown Department of Environmental Conservation. for review only Birds Reptiles & Amphibians Mammalsﬁelds and forests less than ﬁfteen years American Woodcock Black rat snake Eastern red batold. These rabbits occur in a small Black-billed Cuckoo Coal skink Hoary batregion east of the Hudson River. They Blue-winged Common five-lined Indiana batfeed on grasses and leaves of Warbler skink Least shrew Brown Thrasher Fence lizard Least weaselwildﬂowers in the summer and bark Canada Warbler Northern black racer New Englandand twigs of shrubs and trees in the winter. Populations of these rabbits Golden-winged Northern copperhead cottontailhave suffered from habitat loss and the introduction of Eastern cottontail Warbler Short-headed Silver-haired batrabbits. For more information about New England cottontail conservation, Northern Bobwhite gartersnake Small-footed bat Ruffed Grouse Smooth green snakevisit New York State Department of Environmental Conservation website: Whip-poor-will Timber rattlesnakehttp://www.dec.ny.gov/animals/67017.html. Willow Flycatcher Yellow-breastedAmerican Woodcock ChatThe Woodcock requires a diverse mixof habitats to thrive, includingshrublands and forests in riparian areas Authorship The New York Habitat Stewardship brochures are produced by Cornell Cooperative Extension. We gratefully acknowledge permission from the Shrublands(land along riverbanks), upland University of New Hampshire (UNH) Cooperative Extension and original author Malin Clyde of UNH in allowing us to adapt their Habitat Habitat Stewardship Seriesshrublands, young forests, and forest Stewardship Series brochures for use in New York State. In New York State,thickets. The Woodcock uses second funding was provided by the NYS Department of Environmentalgrowth hardwoods as nesting habitat. Conservation, through a State Wildlife Grant to the New York ForestAreas with thick cover, moist fertile Owner’s Association and administered by Cornell Cooperative Extension ofsoil, and abundant worms are used as Chenango County, with assistance from the Cornell University Departmentfeeding grounds. New clear-cuts, large fields and pastures are ideal for of Natural Resources. Adapted for use in New York by Audrey Denvir,breeding displays and night roosting. Over the past several decades, Ashley Dayer, Shorna Allred, and Rich Taber.woodcock populations in the eastern United States have been declining.For more information about American Woodcock, visit About the Habitat Stewardship Series Much of the land in New York State is privately owned. These landownershttp://timberdoodle.org. are the primary stewards of our wildlife and woodlands, and also help to provide us all with clean water, scenic views, fresh air, natural and culturalGolden-winged Warbler heritage, and recreational resources. The Habitat Stewardship Series hasThe Golden-winged Warbler nests in been created to help landowners and land managers recognize the habitatsearly successional fields, with a critical for wildlife species at risk, and to illustrate the role private landowners can play in sustaining these species through conservation,preference for shrubby and open areas. management, and sound stewardship.In New York, this type of habitat is Photo Credits: T. Bell, D. King, M. Piorkowskifound in abandoned farmlands, utilityright-of-ways, scrub/shrub wetlands,and forest regeneration after cutting. A collaborative effort of :This species is becoming increasingly localized and uncommon throughoutthe state. Threats to Golden-winged Warbler populations in New York Cornell University,State include habitat loss, competition and hybridization with blue-winged Cornell Cooperative Extension,warblers, and nest parasitism by brown-headed cowbirds. For more the New York Stateinformation about the Golden-winged Warbler, visit the Golden-winged Department of Environmental Conservation,Warbler Working Group website: http://www.gwwa.org/. and New York Forest Owners Association
Why are shrublands important? Stewardship GuidelinesShrublands... for Shrublands For some species of wildlife, such as the American woodcock and ruffedShrubland habitat is characterized by the dense growth of shrubs, young grouse, shrublands provide necessary cover to escape predators and raisetrees, grasses and herbs. New York’s climate and soils are especially young. These shrubs and young trees also provide an abundance of berries If creating or maintaining shrubland habitat for wildlife sounds likesuitable for growing trees, so if an open ﬁeld or a clearing from logging is and fruit that are eaten by many birds and mammals. Due to loss of something you would like to do, you can take steps to help conserve these habitat, two shrubland species, the New England cottontail and Golden- habitats on your lands. Here’s how:left alone, unmowed, for just a few years, shrubs and young trees will start winged Warbler, are in great decline and have been petitioned to be listedto grow there. Many wildlife species rely on the resulting shrubland habitat under the Endangered Species Act. By managing land for shrublandfor food, cover, and a breeding area. However, shrublands are becoming habitat, landowners can help ensure wildlife have adequate habitat and do Creating or maintaining habitat increasingly rare throughout the not become listed as endangered species. Make a plan with a wildlife biologist or forester who has experience in state. As trees grow, they shade wildlife habitat to maintain and create areas of dense shrub habitat (of at out grasses, wildﬂowers and least 2-5 acres) through periodic cutting of patches over time. Decline in shrubland habitat shrubs. Within twenty-ﬁve to thirty Mow or brush-hog different sections of your forest every 3-5 years, cut Over the past 100 years, there has been a dramatic decrease in the amount years, the area that was once a ﬁeld sections every 5-10 years (may require use of heavy equipment), and/or of shrubland in New York. Land-use change, human development, fewer will become a young forest. This use prescribed ﬁre. large beaver impoundments, and ﬁre suppression have all led to a decline process of vegetation change over Focus conservation on large patches of shrublands as opposed to in shrublands and the many wildlife species that depend on them. In New time is called succession. Old smaller or isolated patches. Shrublands over 5 acres provide a better buffer York, there are 33 wildlife Species of Greatest Conservation Need that ﬁelds, shrublands, and young against predation than smaller ones. rely on early successional forest habitat or shrublands for survival. forests are often called early Protect shrublands with wetter soil; they are highly valuable. Vegetation successional habitats. As forests is denser here, providing the thickest cover for such species as New mature and disturbance is Threats from development England cottontail rabbits and black racer snakes. American woodcock restricted, these early successional Human development poses a severe risk to shrubland habitats. also use wet shrublands, searching the moist soil for earthworms. habitats decrease, as is currently Development fragments shrubland communities, limiting the types of Control for invasive shrubs, such as multiﬂora rose and common happening throughout New York wildlife that can use these smaller habitat patches. Some species, such as buckhorn. Though they may provide suitable cover for wildlife, these State. the New England cottontail, cannot survive in shrublands that are near aggressive plants can cause other ecological problems. development or along powerlines because of the increased predation from Keep fallen logs in your forest as wildlife species, like ruffed grouse, useMost shrublands in New York are found in old ﬁelds and pastures, hawks, owls, foxes, and coyotes. New England cottontails need large them for drumming displays in mating.powerline corridors, gravel pits, and recent clearcuts. These shrublands thickets (more than 5 acres) and do best in areas away from dense human Allow for natural processes to return on their own. Where possible, theexist as a result of human activities—through mowing, tree cutting, or settlement. use of prescribed ﬁre to mimic natural fire will help maintain someabandonment of agricultural ﬁelds. Naturally-occurring shrublands also shrubland habitats. Old trees falling in the forest can also create openingsexist on the landscape. Natural shrublands include abandoned beaver for wildlife. Need for landowner stewardship activitiesponds, wet shrub swamps, patches of juniper, and very dry oak barrens, In today’s landscape, small areas of shrublands may be createdwhich under natural conditions, are kept shrubby by periodic ﬁres. These Locating the habitat naturally—by beaver dam abandonment or small ﬁres. However, tonatural shrublands may remain open for thirty or more years, but in the Locate new openings for shrubland habitat near existing thickets, such sustain wildlife species that depend on shrublands, additional managementabsence of additional natural disturbance, these areas too will continue into as on the edges of powerline corridors or near shrub wetlands. to create and maintain shrubland habitat is needed. Incentive programsmature forest. Avoid damage to sensitive species, waterbodies, or unique habitats exist to aid landowners in these activities. Early successional habitat can be created as part of planned timber management, creating temporary (such as old growth forest or grasslands) that could be affected by mowingPlants of shrublands openings paid for by timber revenue. For technical and financial or cutting trees.Shrubland habitats contain thickets of shrubs assistance in creating Take a look at the landscape around you. Many biologists recommendand young trees mixed with scattered grasses shrubland habitat, contact that 10-15% of the landscape should be in shrublands at a given time.and wildﬂowers. Typical plants include the Natural Resource Allow the edges of ﬁelds to become shrubby. “Softening” the edgedogwood, viburnum, and many other species. Conservation Service (http:// between ﬁeld and forest is an easy way to create early successional habitatTypes of sun-loving trees of the early www.ny.nrcs.usda.gov) or around open ﬁelds. Shrub borders at least 20 feet wide will provide habitatsuccessional habitat include aspen, poplar, the New York State for a variety of wildlife species. Although larger patches are more valuableoak, cherry, birch and ash.Bigtooth Aspen, Populus grandidentata (shown on the Department of to wildlife, even small patches of early successional habitat can help.right), is a type of aspen native to New York. Environmental Conservation Not all land is best as shrubland. Consider the conservation value an old (http://www.dec.ny.gov). field may have as grassland habitat (instead of shrubland), especially if the old field is over 25 acres.