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The Center for Native Grasslands Management

Title: Linear early-successional habitats and bermudagrass invasion
Year: 2002
Author(s): Burkhart, J. K., Carroll, J. P.
Source Title: Proceedings of the Third Eastern Native Grass Symposium
Source Type: Proceedings
pages: 163
Original Publication:  
Abstract: The northern bobwhite quail (bobwhite) is a highly productive species that also suffers high annual mortality rates. Annual results from the Breeding Bird Survey show a steady decline in bobwhite populations over the last thirty years in Georgia. This precipitous decline is believe to be a result of the loss of early successional habitat types that are necessary for their survival. They consist of upland sites that are covered mainly in annual grasses and forbs, with overhead coverage for protection and open at ground level for ease of movement. Linear habitats established by the Bobwhite Quail Initiative (BQI) in the Upper Coastal Plain of Georgia serve to provide quality habitat for the bobwhite. These linear habitats are established around existing row crop field ecosystems. We conducted intensive vegetation surveys in several randomly established study plots. We used line intercepts to monitor presence at one-half meter intervals, and we used stem counts to monitor ground level density. Perennial grasses are the most common invasive recorded. The most aggressive of the invasives is bermudagrass. As many of the fields involved were once pasture land or at the least are adjacent to pastureland, this finding is not surprising. Bermudagrass encroaches rapidly from the edges of established lines and will spread across managed habitats in one growing season. Because this habitat management creates linear features, invasion by bermudagrass appears to be more important than in block habitats that have a greater area. Beneficial, and generally native, species present before the encroachment of bermudagrass are out competed as the bermudagrass virtually becomes a monoculture is some areas. As bermudagrass presence increases, so does the ground-level density of the grass. This spread quickly decreases the quality of the habitat for bobwhites and early successional songbirds. In particular, habitat is degraded for young bobwhites. We currently have further research underway to identify a cost effective method for controlling the spread of bermudagrass in linear habitats.
Publisher: The North Carolina Botanical Garden, Chapel Hill, NC, October 1-3, 2002. Omnipress, Madison, WI
Editor(s): J. Randall