The Influence Of Controlled Burning On Nesting Patterns Of Bobwhite In West Tennessee

Controlled burning has been widely used for managing plant succession in the southeastern United States. This technique has been particularly useful for retarding the encroachment of hardwood species in plantations of southern pines (Pinus sp.), and for maintaining herbaceous plant associations in early stages of succession. The results of controlled burning generally have been favorable for bobwhite populations, whether the burning was done for their benefit or for managing pine. More specifically, controlled burning in the deep South has increased the production of wild legumes, an important class of quail foods, and has reduced the amount of litter on the soil surface, enhancing the quail's ability to locate its food. Controlled burning, however, may induce changes in a plant community which are not beneficial to other aspects of the quail's life history. The removal of dead grass leaves and stems, for example, reduces the amount of suitable nesting material available to quail during the first part of the nesting season, and may render areas unsuitable for nesting. Stoddard's data reworked by Rosene (1969 :64) indicated that 91 percent of 581 nests were situated on areas not burned the spring immediately preceding the nesting season. Rosene (1969 :63) noted also that 80 percent of 650 nests he observed were in areas containing sufficient dead grass for constructing the nest form, and implied that these areas were not burned during the preceding winter or spring. Klimstra and Scott (1957) stated that virtually all of the 352 nests which they studied in southern Illinois were constructed of dead vegetation from the previous or current year's growth. They regarded burning as detrimental to nesting cover on their study area. Lehmann (1946) observed that bobwhites in southwestern Texas "... preferred to locate nests in clumps of grass containing considerable green material . . ."; nest linings, however, were constructed almost exclusively of dead or dry grass. In east-central Texas, the amount and density of ground cover produced during winter or retained from the preceding year is important in determining early spring nesting success (Parmalee 1955).

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