Date of Award

5-2012

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Legacy Department

Wildlife and Fisheries Biology

Advisor

Jodice, Patrick G

Committee Member

Baldwin , Robert

Committee Member

Gerard , Patrick

Abstract

The native breeding bird community of Beaufort County, South Carolina is experiencing landscape alteration in several forms. A prevalent human land use in the coastal zone is golf course development. This study explored the relationship between golf course land cover (n=23) and avian community metrics. Each study site consisted of the in-play area of the golf course, surrounded by a 400 m zone. Landscape metrics were calculated for each study site, and served as independent variables. The dependent variables were the following avian community metrics: species richness, neotropical migrant richness, abundance, diversity, evenness, and mean Partners in Flight (PIF) score. Stepwise model selection produced multiple linear regression models for each avian community metric. Significant variables in the model were interpreted for ecological meaning. Avian species richness, abundance and diversity increased with the area of the landscape, while the interaction of interspersion/juxtaposition and patch richness had varying but significant effects on diversity, species richness and neotropical migrant richness. Mean patch fractal dimension of residential areas positively affected species richness and evenness, while mean patch fractal dimension of turf was opposite in relation to the mean shape index of turf in the evenness model. Evenness showed unique responses to metrics calculated for forested wetland and mixed upland forest. These results yield insight into avian community response to golf course landscape characteristics, and may aid in future management decisions in the region.

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