Author ORCID Identifier

Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Master of Science in Forest and Natural Resource Sciences (MSFNRS)

Document Type

Master's Thesis


Agriculture, Food and Environment


Forestry and Natural Resources

First Advisor

Dr. Steven Price


The Forestry Reclamation Approach (FRA) is a recently developed coal mining reclamation method that emphasizes best management practices in forestry, such as the planting of native trees and shrubs. Although the FRA is expected to benefit wildlife, no studies have empirically examined the effects of the FRA on avian species. My study aimed to identify which reclamation approaches and/or landscape features promote breeding songbirds, particularly mature forest avian guilds and species of conservation need. I conducted point count surveys in the Appalachian Mountains of eastern West Virginia and assessed differences in avian occupancy, species richness, and species abundance between four treatment types: 1) younger (< 9 years) FRA sites (YFRA), 2) older (9-20 years) FRA sites (OFRA), 3) non-FRA regenerated minelands (REGEN), and 4) unmined, mature forests (MAT). Younger FRA sites were positively associated with the disturbed (shrubland/forest edge) and generalist breeding habitat avian guilds, but negatively associated with the mature forest avian guild. Furthermore, I found that both FRA treatments supported numerous priority landbirds and species of greatest conservation need in the region. As the FRA becomes a more widespread and popular reclamation approach in Appalachia, this study will inform future management and reclamation efforts based on considerations for native birds.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

Funding Information

This study was supported by the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement Applied Science Grant Program (Grant#: S21AC10048) in 2021-2023, the McIntire Stennis Capacity Grant Program (#KY009040) in 2021-2023, and the Department of Forestry and Natural Resources at the University of Kentucky in 2021-2023. In addition, this study was supported by the University of Kentucky Karri Casner Environmental Sciences Fellowship in 2023, the Richards Graduate Student Research Activity Award in 2022, the Kentucky Chapter of The Wildlife Society in 2023, the Wilson Ornithological Society in 2023, and the American Ornithological Society in 2023.