Do Review Papers on Bird–Vegetation Relationships Provide Actionable Information to Forest Managers in the Eastern United States?
Forest management planning requires the specification of measurable objectives as desired future conditions at spatial extents ranging from stands to landscapes and temporal extents ranging from a single growing season to several centuries. Effective implementation of forest management requires understanding current conditions and constraints well enough to apply the appropriate silvicultural strategies to produce desired future conditions, often for multiple objectives, at varying spatial and temporal extents. We administered an online survey to forest managers in the eastern US to better understand how wildlife scientists could best provide information to help meet wildlife-related habitat objectives. We then examined more than 1000 review papers on bird–vegetation relationships in the eastern US compiled during a systematic review of the primary literature to see how well this evidence-base meets the information needs of forest managers. We identified two main areas where wildlife scientists could increase the relevance and applicability of their research. First, forest managers want descriptions of wildlife species–vegetation relationships using the operational metrics of forest management (forest type, tree species composition, basal area, tree density, stocking rates, etc.) summarized at the operational spatial units of forest management (stands, compartments, and forests). Second, forest managers want information about how to provide wildlife habitats for many different species with varied habitat needs across temporal extents related to the ecological processes of succession after harvest or natural disturbance (1–2 decades) or even longer periods of stand development. We provide examples of review papers that meet these information needs of forest managers and topic-specific bibliographies of additional review papers that may contain actionable information for foresters who wish to meet wildlife management objectives. We suggest that wildlife scientists become more familiar with the extensive grey literature on forest bird–vegetation relationships and forest management that is available in natural resource management agency reports. We also suggest that wildlife scientists could reconsider everything from the questions they ask, the metrics they report on, and the way they allocate samples in time and space, to provide more relevant and actionable information to forest managers.