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The Center for Native Grasslands Management

Title: Habitat selection of northern bobwhites on a reclaimed surface coal mine in Kentucky
Year: 2010
Author(s): Unger, A., Tanner, E., Harper, C., Keyser, P., Morgan, J.
Source Title:
Source Type: Proceedings
pages: 43
Original Publication:  
Abstract: Reclaimed coal mines in the eastern United States offer an opportunity to increase large tracts of early successional habitat essential to declining northern bobwhite populations. The Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 led to the release of more than 153,022 hectares of reclaimed land in Kentucky. Revegetation of reclaimed land was traditionally dominated by non-native plantings. To determine the effects of vegetation structure on northern bobwhite populations, we sampled vegetation and monitored populations with radio telemetry on a reclaimed surface coal mine in western Kentucky beginning in the winter of 2009. Four vegetation types were delineated: native warm-season grasses, deciduous forest, scrub-shrub, and open herbaceous (dominated by forbs). Point transects were used to measure factors that may influence selection, including vegetation composition, ground-sighting distance, and litter depth. The Chesson index was used to interpret use versus availability of vegetation types. GIS analysis of all Peabody displayed 32% coverage scrub-shrub, 23% native warm-season grasses, 20% deciduous forest and 15% open herbaceous. Selection percentages reflect birds selecting for more than one vegetation type, and in proportion to what is available within individual home ranges. Within the home ranges of 127 bobwhites, 64% selected for scrub-shrub habitat during winter, 37% for open herbaceous areas and 33% for native warm-season grasses. During summer, 57% selected for scrub-shrub, 72% for open herbaceous areas and 69% for native warm-season grasses. Of the bobwhites that had deciduous forest within their home range, 87% selected against it year-round. First-year data indicate a strong selection for open herbaceous and native warm-season grass areas during the summer, and for scrub-shrub areas year-round. This exemplifies the selection differences and use of each vegetation type seasonally in proportion to their availability within the bobwhite’s home range.
Publisher: Proceedings of the Seventh Eastern Native Grass Symposium. Knoxville, TN, October 5-8, 2010
Editor(s): C. Harper