A bird community index of biotic integrity for the Mid-Atlantic Highlands

T. J. O'Connell, L. E. Jackson, R. P. Brooks

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations


We report on the development and preliminary application of a songbird community-based index of biotic integrity. The bird community index (BCI) sorts bird species found at sample sites into a series of values representing the proportional species richness of 20 behavioral and physiological response guilds. Relative proportions of specialist and generalist guilds are used to assign a composite score to each site. Scores from multiple sites indicate the overall biotic integrity of the study area. The BCI is intended to function as a landscape-scale indicator of biotic integrity, integrating conditions across large sample sites containing diverse ecological resources and intensities of human use. We developed the BCI with data from a 1994 pilot study in central Pennsylvania, then applied our preliminary index in 1995 and 1996 to independent samples of sites across the Mid-Atlantic Highlands Assessment area (MAHA). The 1995 and 1996 sample sites were selected using the probability-based sampling design of the Environmental Monitoring and Assessment Program (EMAP), and therefore represent the total land area in MAHA. Our preliminary assessment indicates that MAHA exhibits six categories of biotic integrity, and that more than 40% of the land area supports the two highest biotic integrity categories. Pending BCI refinement and incorporation of landscape and vegetation explanatory variables, the BCI will be included in a suite of indicators designed to provide an assessment of overall ecological condition in MAHA.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)145-156
Number of pages12
JournalEnvironmental Monitoring and Assessment
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Jun 1998
EventProceedings of the 1997 3rd Symposium on the Environmental Monitoring and Assessment Program, EMAP - Albany, NY, USA
Duration: Apr 8 1997Apr 11 1997

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Environmental Science
  • Pollution
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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