Improving Northern Bobwhite Brood Rearing Habitat in Tall Fescue Dominated Fields

Tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea)-dominated fields provide poor northern bobwhite (Colinus virginianus) brood rearing habitat. Burning, disking, and herbicide applications have been recommended to improve bobwhite habitat within fescue-dominated fields. We implemented fall burning, fall disking, spring burning, spring disking, spring herbicide application, summer burning, and summer disking in fescue-dominated fields on 4 wildlife management areas across Kentucky. We sampled invertebrate populations and vegetative structure in summers 1992 and 1993 to determine if bobwhite brood rearing habitat quality was improved. We considered forb-dominated fields with high plant species richness, high invertebrate populations, and sufficient bare ground as providing the best brood rearing habitat. Fall disked plots provided significantly greater invertebrate abundance (¯x = 2199.4 ± 331.5; p ≤ 0.05) than control plots (¯x = 824.0 ± 264.5) in 1992. In 1993, herbicide treated plots had greater invertebrate abundance (¯x = 1126.8 ± 229.5; p ≤ 0.05) than control plots (¯x = 327.3 ± 63.2). Plant species richness (¯x = 12.8 ± 1.2), forb coverage (¯x = 70.2 ± 12.5%), and bare ground (¯x = 48.5 ± 8.2%) were significantly greater (p ≤ 0.05) on fall disked plots in 1992 than on control plots. In 1993, herbicide treated plots had greater (p ≤ 0.05) plant species richness (¯x = 14.1 ± 1.4), forb coverage (¯x = 59.3 ± 12.0%), and bare ground (¯x = 41.0 ± 10.2%) than control plots. Fall disked plots provided the best bobwhite brood rearing habitat in 1992, while herbicide treated plots provided the best habitat in 1993.

Starting page
525
Ending page
536
ID
21502