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The Center for Native Grasslands Management

Title: Northern bobwhite population and habitat response to pine-grassland restoration
Year: 2002
Author(s): Cram, D.S., Masters, R.E., Guthrey, F.S., Engle, D.M., Mantague, W.G.
Source Title: Journal of Wildlife Management
Source Type: Journal
pages: 1031-1039
Original Publication: http://  
Abstract: We compared northern bobwhite (Colinus virginianus) abundance and habitat characteristics in unmanaged mixed shortleaf pine (Pinus echinata)-hardwood stands and restored pine-grassland stands managed for the red-cockaded woodpecker (Picoides borealis) on the Ouachita National Forest, Arkansas, USA. To determine northern bobwhite (hereafter, bobwhite) population response in untreated control, thinned, and thinned and burned stands either 1, 2, or 3 growing seasons (Mar to mid-Oct) post-burn, we used whistling-male counts and covey-call counts as indices of population abundance. We estimated woody stem density, understory and overstory canopy cover, conifer and hardwood basal area, and the disc of vulnerability to haracterize habitat response. Relative abundance of whistling males in the spring was greatest in thinned stands 3 growing seasons post-burn and in thinned but unburned stands. These stands had the smallest disc of vulnerability and the greatest understory shrub cover <2 m in height compared with other treatments. A threshold-like increase in bobwhite abundance was observed as a function of woody structure <2 m. Pine-grassland restoration provided suitable structure for bobwhites in spring, summer, and fall, but may not be adequate in winter. Further, data suggested that bobwhite density within a stand also was related to the amount of suitable habitat surrounding the stand. Bobwhite management efforts in similar shortleaf pine forests should include thinning to reduce midstory and overstory cover and frequent fire to maintain open woodland conditions-i.e., low basal area stands with limited midstory.