Effects of Red-cockaded Woodpecker Management on Bobwhite Relative Abundance

Loss of pine-grassland communities has contributed to declines in populations of northern bobwhites (Colinus virginianus; hereafter, bobwhite) and red-cockaded woodpeckers (Picoides borealis; RCW). However, evolving land management priorities on publicly-owned lands managed by the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) increasingly emphasize restoration of historic cover conditions and habitat for endangered species such as the RCW. These land use changes should benefit pine-grassland species, including bobwhite, but effects are not well understood. Therefore, we monitored abundance and distribution of breeding bobwhites on the Homochitto National Forest of southwestern Mississippi during 1994-1999. We quantified abundance of breeding bobwhites using call counts in three landscapes that differed in extent of land under management for RCWs (low = 7.5%, intermediate = 46.7%, and high = 66.2%). Bobwhite abundance was closely tied to intensity of management. Landscapes with an intermediate and high proportion of stands dedicated to RCW management had relative abundance of bobwhite 46.9% and 232% greater than that observed in landscapes with a low extent of RCW management. RCW management likely enhances bobwhite habitat through maintenance of pine-grassland communities, and when applied to landscapes, has the potential to improve bobwhite populations locally and regionally. Key words: Colinus virginianus, quail, Mississippi, northern bobwhite, pinegrassland communities, prescribed fire, RCW, red-cockaded woodpecker

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