Selection of Focal Areas for Northern Bobwhite Habitat Enhancement on Private Lands in North Carolina

In August 2000, the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission approved and funded the Cooperative Upland habitat Restoration and Enhancement (CURE) Program, an initiative to create and maintain early-successional upland habitat for the enhancement of northern bobwhite (Colinus virginianus) populations and associated early-successional species in North Carolina. As a part of the initial implementation of the CURE Program, our objectives were to identify specific geographic areas in North Carolina (focal areas) where the potential to restore and enhance bobwhite habitat and increase bobwhite populations on private lands was greatest. We used a Geographic Information System and remotely-sensed satellite imagery to examine current land use and the spatial arrangement of bobwhite habitat to develop a model of landscape suitability for bobwhite habitat restoration and enhancement in North Carolina. Landscape suitability relative to the focal area selection process identified those areas of the state which presently have land use or land-cover types arranged in the landscape in proportions that are likely to support high bobwhite numbers and where bobwhite are likely to respond to management actions and target programs. Based on our model, we identified potentially suitable landscapes and selected focal areas in the western Piedmont and northern and southern Coastal Plain of North Carolina for initial implementation of the CURE Program. Development of landscape models similar to ours can be adjusted to more accurately reflect current land-use patterns within a particular state or physiographic region, and may be more appropriate when objectives are to identify potentially suitable landscapes for targeted management rather than habitat suitability for a given species.

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