Olivia Smith Graduate Defense Seminar
Olivia Smith, MS Candidate in Fisheries and Wildlife Science, will present her Graduate Defense Seminar, Effects of Agricultural Land Conversion and Landscape Connectivity on Movement, Survival, and Abundance of Northern Bobwhiltes (Colinus Virginianus) in Ohio. Her presentation will be held in 245 Kottman Hall.
Conversion of land for agriculture and agricultural intensification are widely recognized as one of the largest threats to biodiversity. My research aimed to better understand how to manage for wildlife in highly modified, agricultural landscapes using the northern bobwhite (Colinus virginianus) as a model organism. I conducted my research on four private land study sites in Highland and Brown Counties, Ohio. First, I sought to better connect management needs for the full annual cycle by assessing what habitat factors drive fall dispersal. The average shift from the center of the summer home range to the center of the winter home range was 515 ± 139 (SE) m (n = 26). The model with the most support (ΔAIC – 2.342) of distances moved between summer and fall winter home ranges included summer home range percent early-successional woody cover, summer home range forest edge density, mean-nearest neighbor of early-successional woody habitat, and summer interspersion juxtaposition index of early-successional herbaceous habitat. Whistle count surveys were conducted from 2008-2010 and 2012-2014 to assess how land use change and intentional management using woodlot edge enhancement affect rates of change in abundance. The pooled estimate between sites was a decline of -0.512 detections per point per year, mirroring range wide declines of 4.08% annually and an even higher rate of 6.88% in Ohio. Early-successional woody was the only habitat type to show a significant result in response to habitat change (χ12 = 4.9425, P = 0.0262) and was positively correlated with change in abundance (1.077 ± 0.481 (SE) detections per survey point per year). My results suggest that bobwhites in Ohio likely need winter cover close to nesting and brood rearing habitat due to limited ability to move large distances once crops are plowed. My results also suggest addition of treated edges may help slow population decline at a small scale.