Date of Award

8-2007

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Legacy Department

Forest Resources

Advisor

Yarrow, Greg K

Abstract

ABSTRACT We evaluated the effect of early-successional habitat management practices on vegetation structure and composition, shrub-scrub songbird nesting, wintering songbird habitat use, and Northern Bobwhite habitat use in the lower Coastal Plain of South Carolina. The response of vegetation was measured for 18 different disturbance treatments at the end of each growing season from 2000 to 2006. The response of vegetation to disturbance was different among treatments. However, similarities existed between burn and disk treatments with the same season and frequency. We found 76 shrub-scrub songbird nests during the 2005 and 2006 nesting seasons. Painted buntings, indigo buntings, and blue grosbeaks were the most commonly found nesting species in the study. Nesting success and productivity experienced variation between years. Nest failures were the most commonly caused by storms, snakes, and raccoons. Hedgerows and field borders were the most commonly used habitat for nesting. Winter songbird use of early-successional habitat was studied in January and February of 2006. Birds were counted in treatment plots during man drives. Bird numbers were highest in plots that received spring and winter burning treatments. Northern bobwhites (n=11) were tracked using a modified homing technique from February thru August of 2006. Locations (n=951) were recorded based on the habitat type birds were in 3 times daily. Bobwhite use of the study area indicated that ditchlines, hedgerows, and food plots were important field components for the species. Based on our results land managers in the lower Coastal Plain may achieve the greatest results in early-successional habitat management with the use of prescribed burns applied in the spring at least every two years.

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