Undergraduate Research

Undergraduate Research

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Amber Owen
Amber Owen

Assessing Species-Habitat Relationships in Priority Open Pine Ecological Systems in Mississippi

Amber Owen, senior wildlife, fisheries and aquaculture major, surveyed six species in imperiled open pine ecosystems. In the Southeastern U.S., indicator species in imperiled open pine ecosystems provide wildlife managers and biologists insight into habitat conditions. In this study, Owen surveyed six indicator species: Bachman's sparrow (Peucaea aestivalis), Brown-headed nuthatch (Sitta pusilla), Northern bobwhite (Colinus virginiana), Red-cockaded woodpecker (Leuconotopicus borealis), Pine warbler (Setophaga pinus), and Prairie warbler (Setophaga discolor) in three management units containing upland pine forest in Sam D. Hamilton Noxubee Wildlife Refuge, Mississippi. These species prefer open understory layers in a predominately pine system and the presence of some forbs and grasses. Owen used empirical point transect bird and forest structure surveys across a random sample of 161points during June 2016 to create species-habitat association models to further knowledge of how priority species interact with their habitat. She then used Poisson regression models in an information theoretic approach to assess target species relationships with forest structure variables. Pine and Prairie warblers were the most detected target species across management units. Of the target species, sample size allowed for habitat association models for Pine warbler, Prairie warbler and a guild of pine-grassland birds that included Blue Grosbeak (Passerina caeruea) Bachman's sparrow, Northern Bobwhite, and Field Sparrow (Spizella pusilla). The model for Pine warbler showed a preference for pine basal area. Prairie Warbler models showed no noticeable preference for one habitat component with relative abundance influenced by components of pine basal area and overstory, hardwood midstory, and shrub and herbaceous ground cover. For the grassland guild, the preference was for midstory and understory.


News / Recognition

Undergraduate Research Symposium

Katherine Abell, a wildlife, fisheries, and aquaculture major, and Zachary Senneff, a forestry major, were among the winners of the 2014 MSU Undergraduate Research Symposium. Abell placed first in the community engagement and social sciences categories and Senneff placed second in the biological sciences and engineering category.

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