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Funded Projects

Response of Northern Bobwhite Populations and the Associated Avian Community to Landscape-Level Management in the Central Hardwoods BCR

Habitat management in accordance with guidelines stated in the Northern Bobwhite Conservation Initiative (NBCI) for northern bobwhite (Colinus virginianus) was initiated on 2 focal areas (each >15,000 acres) in north-central Arkansas during 2003. Each area consists of privately owned farms on which a combination of management activities have been initiated including development of borders around pastures and hay fields, controlled burning and thinning of forested woodlots, and restoration of native warm season grasses. The goal of habitat manipulations is, as stated in the NBCI, to restore population densities of northern bobwhite to levels that existed in 1980. However, before widely adopting the management protocol, resource managers need to evaluate the degree to which the habitat manipulations meet the specified goal.

We propose to assess the extent to which management guidelines specified in the NBCI will create a landscape that will increase productivity and population density of northern bobwhite. To achieve this objective, we will compare hatching-year to after- hatching-year ratios of quail on focal areas and adjacent reference areas. We will also establish breeding bird survey routes, conduct point counts, and run quail-call count surveys within the focal areas to obtain population data for comparison with historical records of the region and with reference sites.

Another objective is to examine responses of quail, including brood-rearing and nesting birds, to management activities. We will employ telemetry to assess bird response and brood-rearing success, as well as transects and nest searching, to evaluate habitat use with respect to specific management practices.

Finally we will examine effects of management on vegetation and avian community structure. Baseline data to characterize vegetation and avian community structure have already been collected and we will continue to follow existing protocol in future monitoring.

Given the broad scale of the manipulations in focal areas, we feel that our multi-faceted research protocol is the best way to obtain an accurate picture of how management influences demography of quail.

Bradley J. Carner
Arkansas Game and Fish Commission
2 Natural Resources Drive
Little Rock, AR 72205

Phone: (800) 364-4263 ext. 6395

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