Date of Award

12-2009

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Legacy Department

Wildlife and Fisheries Biology

Advisor

Lanham, Joseph D

Committee Member

Guynn , David

Committee Member

Yarrow , Greg

Abstract

ABSTRACT
There are strict regulations surrounding vegetation management at military airfields for the purpose of reducing Bird Aircraft Strike Hazards (B.A.S.H.). At military installations vegetation heights are set between 17 to 38 cm to discourage the use of animal species such as flocking birds, soarers (e.g. raptors), large wading birds (e.g. herons), and waterfowl that create hazards to flying aircraft. Within designated clear zones, managers have typically promoted the growth of non - non-native grasses without much consideration for how these plantings might impact B.A.S.H. potential, bird occupancy, or avian conservation. Grasslands and grassland associated avifauna are among the 'highest priority' management concerns. While native grasslands and many of the species associated with them are in a steady decline, opportunities exist to restore more suitable native grassland habitats in novel places such as landfills, utility rights- of- way and airports. We conducted a study at the McEntire Air National Guard Station (ANG) in Eastover, South Carolina to test the hypotheses that managing a clear zone for native grassland restoration would attract high priority grassland songbirds (e.g. Henslow's Sparrow, Eastern Meadowlark) , but would not increase flocking, soaring, or large wader and waterfowl bird presence/activity or promote increased B.A.S.H. Our results show that the most diversity and frequency of birds occurred during the breeding season (May - June) with the majority of activity being calling and singing. Some flocking species (i.e. Savannah Sparrows) had high frequency during this time, but based on the cost benefit analysis we were able to determine that certain avian species have a lower cost BASH value than others. Furthermore analysis has shown that there was an increase in grassland birds (i.e. Grasshopper Sparrow, Blue Grosbeak, Eastern Meadowlark) after the restoration management was established in the clear zone area. Many of the grassland birds we wanted to attract into the clear zones showed a lost cost BASH value. Flocking and soaring species frequencies decreased after the clear zone was restored into native grasses. Yet these species groups remain to have a high BASH risk based on the proximity of bird attractant habitat.

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