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Funded Projects

Maximizing the Impact of Field Borders for Quail and Early-succession Songbirds: What’s the Best Design for Implementation?

Northern bobwhite (Colinus virginianus) and other early-succession bird populations declined during the past half-century, primarily because of changes in land-use that led to habitat loss and degradation. A popular management practice to assist these species is the creation of linear field borders along cropland peripheries and ditch banks. These narrow borders, although shown to increase quail numbers locally, may concentrate quail and songbird nest predators and brood parasites. Nonlinear blocks of fallow habitat created in odd corners or unproductive areas of crop fields may be at lower risk of negative edge effects. Additionally, the creation of field border habitat, including that supported by Farm Bill programs, traditionally has been implemented with little consideration for landscape characteristics surrounding the area of management. Recent research indicates that the creation of additional usable space for quail may have the greatest impact in “suitable” landscapes already high in usable space (i.e., landscapes containing at least 30-50% cropland). We propose to determine the effects of field border shape, landscape context, and the interaction of field border shape and landscape context on bobwhite quail and early-succession songbird abundance and reproductive success in 2004, 2005, and 2006. We will study bird response to the creation of fallow habitat on 12 hog farms with linear border habitat (6 in suitable landscapes and 6 in unsuitable landscapes) and 12 hog farms with block habitat (6 in suitable landscapes and 6 in unsuitable landscapes) in the Southeastern Coastal Plain of North Carolina. Results could be used by NRCS, FSA, and partners to modify Farm Bill technical specifications and program implementation to better accomplish objectives of the Northern Bobwhite Conservation Initiative and the conservation of grassland and early succession birds in the southeastern United States.

Christopher E. Moorman
North Carolina State University
Box 8003
Raleigh, NC 27695

Phone: (919) 515-5578

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