Date of Graduation

Spring 2014

Degree

Master of Science in Biology

Department

Biology

Committee Chair

Janice Greene

Keywords

northern bobwhite, quail, vegetation structure, weather, heterogeneity, tallgrass prairie, patch-burn grazing, bison, Missouri

Subject Categories

Biology

Abstract

Northern bobwhite quail (Colinus virginianus), populations have declined noticeably since the 1960s. The role of annual habitat variability on quail density in a tallgrass prairie setting is poorly understood. To provide insight into the efficacy of tallgrass prairie management in southwestern Missouri, I investigated the influence of prescribed burning and open-gate patch-burn grazing with bison (Bison bison) treatments on density of quail estimates relative to vegetation structural responses. Treatments between pastures did not indicate a significant difference in quail density; however, weather impeded scheduled management treatments, potentially influencing vegetation and quail responses. Quail density rates were comparable across similar latitudes, yet the declining trends expressed across years within both treatment types, regardless of the differences in measured variables, indicated that a component other than treatment type contributed to their decline. My study suggests that quail density estimates were less associated with treatment type and became less dense holistically due to: i) the timing of environmental stochastic events which aligned with biologically-sensitive life cycle periods,; ii) a decrease in vegetation heterogeneity as a product of months-since-burn;, and iii) a decrease in vegetation structural components of value to nesting and brood-rearing

Copyright

© Robert Lynn Peterson

Campus Only

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