Term of Award

Summer 2019

Degree Name

Master of Science in Biology (M.S.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Department

Department of Biology

Committee Chair

C. Ray Chandler

Committee Member 1

Michelle Cawthorn

Committee Member 2

John Schenk

Abstract

Understanding the impact that human development has on wildlife populations is essential to preserving biodiversity. Bird populations are a good indicator of anthropogenic threats because they are sensitive to environmental change. Window strikes are a major source of mortality for bird populations. Studies have begun to monitor factors that cause window strikes and estimate the amount of birds killed annually by strikes. However, these estimates can be greatly affected by site dependent variables and scavenging of carcasses. My study addresses this issue by answering four questions: First, how many birds are killed annually on campus? Second, what factors complicate making this estimate of bird mortality? Third, what building factors affect this mortality? Fourth, what is the best method to try for cost effective mitigation? I conducted my study on the Statesboro Campus of Georgia Southern University. Searches were completed on campus buildings to find any birds that had struck windows. Buildings were also measured for various environmental factors including total area (square footage), window area and surrounding tree area. Carcass removal rate was also determined by placing previously struck birds at buildings and monitoring daily for decomposition and scavenging. Once carcass searches concluded and a carcass removal rate was determined, an annual mortality estimate for the campus was calculated. I also evaluated three window strike prevention options based on cost. An estimated 2270 – 4604 birds die annually at Georgia Southern University. Carcass removal was considered high with 44% of carcasses being removed in 1 to 2 days. Window strikes increased with both building area and window area. However, the number of window strikes and surrounding tree-line did not have a significant relationship. High carcass removal rate can be responsible for the lack of carcass detection at buildings with factors that other studies found to have increased window strikes such as high vegetation cover. By consistently monitoring window strikes and thinking bird friendly while in the planning stages, the campus can greatly reduce the number of birds killed yearly and preserve bird biodiversity.

Research Data and Supplementary Material

No

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