Term of Award

1996

Degree Name

Master of Science in Biology

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (restricted to Georgia Southern)

Department

Department of Biology

Committee Chair

Stephen Vives

Committee Member 1

John Parrish

Committee Member 2

Ray Chandler

Abstract

Neotropical migrator)' birds breed in North American temperate zones and migrate south of the continental United States during the nonbreeding season. During the past several years, many species in this group of birds has been in decline. This study, which took place from mid-May until mid-August 1995, at Fort Stewart attempted to determine how managed burning to maintain Red-cockaded Woodpecker habitat on the base affected the population of neotropical migrants. One hundred and seventeen point counts were conducted and divided into three bum-time categories (old, middle and recent bum). The categories were based on the last year each plot that was surveyed was burned (old, last burned in 1990 or before; middle, last burned in 1991 or 1992; and recent, last burned in 1993 or 1994) When analyzed as a group, neotropical migrants showed no preference for a bum time. Resident species preferred middle bum times or older. Abundant bird species at Fort Stewart were also analyzed. The Blue-gray Gnatcatcher preferred recentlv burned areas, while the Eastern Wood-Pewee preferred middle bum areas. The Eastern Towhee preferred old bum areas. Neotropical migrants were also divided into categories based on their foraging behavior. A one-way analysis of variance found no significant difference in abundances when categorized by foraging behavior tor the three bum years. The vegetation components of percent canopy cover, midlayer, and ground cover (herbaceous and woody) were compared to abundance of bird species found at Fort Stewart. A principal components analvsis of the vegetation data resulted in two factors, which described only 40% of the variation in the vegetation data A multiple regression analysis of bird abundances versus the PCA scores was not significant. Further study will be needed to accurately assess the management program at Fort Stewart.

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