Title page for ETD etd-06062008-162348

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Tonkovich, Michael J
URN etd-06062008-162348
Title Field evaluation of the northern bobwhite habitat suitability index model with implications for the conservation reserve program
Degree PhD
Department Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Fraser, James D. Committee Member
Kirkpatrick, Roy L. Committee Member
Scanlon, Patrick F. Committee Member
Stauffer, Dean F. Committee Member
Wolf, Dale D. Committee Member
  • Colinus virginianus
Date of Defense 1995-07-01
Availability unrestricted
A field evaluation of a modified version of the northern bobwhite (Colinus virginianus) Habitat Suitability Index (HSI) model was conducted using habitat and relative abundance data from 121 sites distributed throughout Halifax County, Virginia, 1986-1991. Mode) output and the index of relative abundance were only poorly correlated (rs = 0.09, £ 0.31, n 121 ). The mode] identified winter food as the limiting factor at 115 of the 121 sites. However, the Composition Suitability Index for the equivalent percent of the station providing winter food in optimum condition and the performance measure were not correlated ( r5 0.09, P 0.33, n = 121 ). Population performance at 49 of the 115 sites exceeded 1eve1s indicated by the model. Attempts to improve the fit of the model focused initially on the winter food component of the model. Attempts to improve the fit of the model by considering alternative food sources, the role of habitat interspersion, the individual variable Suitability Index curves, and a reassessment of the contribution of crop fields to the estimate of available winter food were unsuccessful. Quail appeared to be nest/brood habitat rather food limited. The index of quail abundance and the estimate of available nest/brood habitat were correlated positively (rs = 0. 55, £ < 0.00 l, n = 121 ).

Winter habitat use within the covey home range was evaluated January through April of 1990 and 1991 by comparing micro-habitat conditions at used and unused sites within the home range. Two different statistical treatments (regression and signed-rank) were used to determine if preferential habitat use was occurring. Whereas the signed-rank test yielded significant (£ = 0.04) results for only 1 of 7 micro-habitat parameters, results from the regression analyses were all significant(£< 0.05), indicating disproportional use of habitat characteristics.

The potential effect of the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) on northern bobwhite populations was evaluated by comparing nest/brood habitat conditions in crop and 4 CRP field types including CPI, CP3 < 8 yr, CP3 > 8 yr, and CP3 fields receiving some level of commercial thinning. Short-term effects are likely to be positive. Both CP 1 and CP3 field types should provide more suitable nest/brood habitat conditions than crop fields. Long-term effects of the CRP on northern bobwhite are likely to be negative. Conservation Reserve fields with pines (CP3) > 8 yrs old provided virtually no nest/brood habitat. Commercial thinning did not appear to have a positive impact on habitat conditions.

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