First Advisor

Robert Tinnin

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Environmental Sciences and Resources: Biology


Environmental Science and Management




Nature -- Effect of human beings on -- Oregon -- Portland, Forest plants -- Oregon -- Portland, Birds -- Oregon -- Portland, Forest Park (Portland Or.)



Physical Description

1 online resource (xi, 244 pages)


The effects of urbanization and continual human disturbance on the plant and avian communities of Forest Park and forested lands surrounding Portland, Oregon, were studied. I examined characteristics of plant and avian communities at 25 sites, 24 which were in Forest Park and surrounding areas and one which was in the Ancient Forest Preserve (old-growth stand) northwest of Forest Park. Data were analyzed using multiple regression, ANOV A, and Bonferonni/Dunn. Seven variables were selected representing different urbanization gradients. An additional covariable coded for the old-growth stand, allowing it to be used as a control.

Many tree variables, especially those related to shade-tolerant species, were positively correlated with both the distance from downtown Portland and the number of houses in the surrounding area, and negatively correlated with the distance from the nearest forest edge; however, many shrub and herbaceous variables were negatively correlated with the distance from downtown Portland. Species diversity for herbaceous and shrub species was greater at more urban sites, but diversity of trees was lower at more urban sites. There were significantly more non-native species of plants in the city section. I found significantly fewer saplings and small trees, especially shade-tolerant species, in the section of Forest Park closest to downtown Portland, although tree mortality was positively correlated with distance from Portland.

Summer bird data revealed significant increases in the abundances of urban and edge species at more urban sites, with concomitant reductions in forest species. There were significantly more ground gleaning birds and short distance migratory species. I also found a significantly greater abundance of birds in the old-growth stand during the winter. This increase was positively correlated with the depth of snow in the nearby Cascade Mountains.

My results indicate that Forest Park is apparently progressing in a normal successional pattern with the exception of the city section. The reduction in shade tolerant saplings and small trees in the city section suggest that rate of succession has been slower at more urban sites. Avian data suggest that urbanization affects bird species abundance and guild composition in the more urban areas.


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