Northern bobwhite breeding season dispersal, habitat use, and survival in a southeastern agricultural landscape
Cook, Merrill Patrick
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Most biologists agree that changes in land use that have reduced the quantity and quality of early successional habitat are primarily responsible for the decline of the northern bobwhite (Colinus virginianus). The decline of the bobwhite in Georgia led to the development of the Bobwhite Quail Initiative (BQI), a state-funded program designed to increase bobwhite populations by providing early successional habitat around crop fields. I examined dispersal, habitat use, and survival in a landscape with a relatively large number of crop fields enrolled in the BQI program. Both adults and broods used BQI habitats and the presence of BQI habitats had a positive effect on adult survival during the breeding season. However, the effect was highly variable suggesting that the effect is likely contingent upon other habitats, particularly closed-canopy pine. Management strategies aimed at increasing bobwhite populations on a regional level in the Southeast should consider the large-scale management of pine stands a high priority.