Committee Chair

Aborn, David A.

Committee Member

Shaw, Joey; Wilson, Thomas P.


Dept. of Biology, Geology, and Environmental Science


College of Arts and Sciences


University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Place of Publication

Chattanooga (Tenn.)


The invasion of exotic plants into riparian areas of southeastern United States is a conservation concern not only for native plant communities, but also for wildlife. Breeding bird community structure could be particularly affected by such invasions and subsequent habitat changes as birds respond quickly to changes in habitat resources. During the 2007 breeding season, bird communities were surveyed using the line transect census method at four sites along the North Chickamauga Creek in Hamilton County, Tennessee. Two of the sites were regarded as being highly invaded by exotic understory plant species, while the other two sites remain relatively free of such invasion. The primary attributes of avian community structure analyzed were diversity and density, both of which were relatively similar among all four sites, showing an overall neutral effect from understory plant invasions. However, a slightly higher diversity index and density of individuals was found at one of the invaded sites. This particular site is also the most highly managed of the four and is also in the early stages of invasion, suggesting that research should be conducted to better understand how avian communities respond to various levels of invasion. Species composition among the sites also varied and the most natural of the four sites supported a greater number of habitat specialists and migratory species, showing that measures of diversity and density should not be used alone when examining avian-habitat relationships. Control of these invasive plants in natural areas is encouraged as some species may actually benefit from their absence. Long-term research on both community structure and demographic measures is needed to observe avian responses over a spatial and temporal scale of habitat change due to plant invasions.


A number of people and organizations must be formally thanked for their support, guidance, and assistance which enabled me to complete my thesis for the degree of Master of Science. My committee chair, Dr. David Aborn, must be thanked first for the hours of help he gave me both in the field and in the office, and for his never ending encouragement. I thank Drs. Joey Shaw. and Thomas Wilson, my remaining committee members, for their honest opinions and advice over this two year period. I owe many thanks to several individuals who assisted with the field research including Dr. Aborn, Meagan Binkley, Brandon Dicorato, Jason Hill, Brad Lackey, and my parents, Eddie and Donna Hatmaker. I thank Andy Carroll for assisting me with the map creation for this project. Funding for this project was granted by the Provost Student Research Award. I also would like to thank the Chattanooga Rotary Club for their scholarship assistance which allowed me to complete my Master of Science degree. Finally, I owe thanks to Nathan Moore for his enduring patience and reassurance throughout this process.


M. S.; A thesis submitted to the faculty of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the degree of Master of Science.




Birds--Effect of habitat modification on--Tennessee--Hamilton County; Bird populations--Tennessee--Hamilton County; Invasive plants--Tennessee--Hamilton County


Environmental Indicators and Impact Assessment

Document Type

Masters theses




vi, 48 leaves



Call Number

LB2369.2 .H375 2008