Date of Award

8-2007

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Legacy Department

Forest Resources

Advisor

Lanham, Joesph D

Committee Member

Guynn , David

Committee Member

Wigley , Bentley

Abstract

Riparian ecosystems provide many ecological functions critical to both aquatic and terrestrial vertebrates. Anecdotal field observations indicate that upland forest harvesting may affect riparian ecosystem functions, yet the relationship has not been well documented, especially for wildlife. As part of the collaborative Dry Creek watershed study at International Paper's Southlands Forest in Decatur County, Georgia, I evaluated the effects of Best Management Practices (BMP) timber harvesting on avian communities occupying riparian corridors/streamside management zones (SMZs) in headwater streams of the Gulf Coastal Plain of Georgia. Using repeated visits to established line transects, data were collected during the breeding seasons from 2003 to 2006 to assess the relative conservation value of treated and reference watersheds and the spatial distribution of select riparian zone avifauna . The activity patterns (as defined by records of occurrence from transect surveys) of Louisiana Waterthrush (Seiurus motacilla), Acadian Flycatchers (Empidonax virescens) and Northern Parula Warblers (Parula americana) were analyzed using a Geographic Information System (GIS) and modifications of home range kernel estimates. Activity cluster results for Louisiana Waterthrush indicated differences in cluster dispersion within the riparian zones. Results also showed that Conservation Values for riparian zone avifauna were higher in the SMZ of the unharvested watersheds. Methods such as activity clusters and conservation value scoring may provide a viable method for assessing faunal communities in riparian zones.

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Agriculture Commons

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