Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Wildlife and Fisheries Science

Major Professor

James T. Tanner

Committee Members

David A Etnier, J. C. Howell


Purpose of the study: The purpose of this study was to determine as accurately as possible the density of the bird populations in a virgin spruce-fir forest before changes in the forest resulting from aphid damage occurred. Accounts of the kinds of birds to be found in the spruce-fir biome are numerous. Some taken in the Southern Appalachians date almost one hundred years ago (Brewster, 1886). These reports give excellent records of the numbers of species to be found, but none give the numbers of individuals of each species, the density, to be expected for a given unit of measure of spruce-fir forest.

A knowledge of the approximate avian population is of importance for several reasons. First, as far as can be determined from the literature search, there are no records of population censuses taken in a virgin spruce-fir forest. The study is, therefore, unique. Secondly, should the aphid continue to spread unchecked, there will occur many changes in the flora and fauna of the area. Thirdly, records of the present population densities are needed as a basis for comparison for ecological studies which might be undertaken at some future date.

So that this investigator would have some insight into the succession of changes in the plants and animals that follow the destruction of this forest type, a trip was made to Mt. Mitchell on the completion of the census and a direct comparison was made.

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