Northern bobwhite habitat modeling on a military installation in relation to red-cockaded woodpecker management
Grimes, Dallas Paul
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The Department of Defense (DOD) manages natural resources on military installations across about 12 million ha of land across the USA. A priority for much of this land is to restore and maintain native ecosystems and associated wildlife species (Boice 2006, 2007). However, given the typical location (i.e., threatened ecosystems) and size of DOD lands management conflicts may potentially occur among endangered/threatened species and other natural resource objectives (HydroGeoLogic 2007). Specifically, military installations in the Southeastern U.S. are commonly managed to protect red-cockaded woodpecker (Piciodes borealis; hereafter RCW) populations and longleaf wiregrass ecosystems (Boice 2007). However, mandated RCW management might not be entirely compatible with other declining species such as Northern bobwhites (Colinus virginianus; hereafter bobwhite). Land managers need to be equipped with spatially explicit habitat models that can be used to make informed decisions on how to manage lands (Letcher et al. 1998). Data collected on Fort Gordon Military Installation, Georgia from male whistle counts during the summer of 2010 and 2011 were used to construct competing models on the relationship between RCW management and other habitat structure metrics as it relates to bobwhite habitat suitability. These data were collected using a robust occupancy sampling design to allow open and closed population assumptions. Habitat variables taken from the stand and landscape layer such as hardwood basal, percent ground cover, and fire frequency were used to predict bobwhite and RCW occupancy. These models will assist natural resources managers in making efficient decisions regarding integrated management of wildlife communities on DOD land.