Scholarly Works, Conservation Management Institute

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  • Exploring the relevance of the multidimensionality of wildlife recreationists to conservation behaviors: A case study in Virginia
    Grooms, Bennett; Dayer, Ashley A.; Barnes, Jessica C.; Peele, Ashley; Rutter, Jonathan D.; Cole, Nicholas W. (Wiley, 2023-04-20)
    Wildlife recreationists' participation in conservation behaviors could provide key support to the conservation efforts of state fish and wildlife agencies. However, little is known about how identifying with multiple forms of wildlife recreation (i.e., hunters, anglers, birders, wildlife viewers) may influence participation in conservation behaviors, specifically for supporting state fish and wildlife agencies and their conservation goals. Using a mixed-mode survey of Virginia wildlife recreationists, we explored the hypothesized relationship between individuals' participation in conservation behaviors and their identification with multiple forms of consumptive and nonconsumptive wildlife recreation. We found wildlife recreation identity is multidimensional, with many individuals identifying with consumptive and nonconsumptive identities simultaneously. Further, consumptive-only recreationists (i.e., hunters and/or anglers) participated in conservation behaviors less often than nonconsumptive-only recreationists (i.e., birders and/or wildlife viewers) and recreationists with both consumptive and nonconsumptive identities were less likely to support a state fish and wildlife agency in the future. Our findings underscore the importance of all types of wildlife recreationists, especially those with intersecting identities, as state fish and wildlife agencies work to advance conservation. Hence, developing multi-faceted engagement strategies may enhance support for state fish and wildlife agencies among their growing wildlife recreation constituency.
  • Distribution Probability of the Virginia Northern Flying Squirrel in the High Allegheny Mountains
    Ford, W. Mark; Diggins, Corinne A.; De La Cruz, Jesse L.; Silvis, Alexander (2022-03)
    In the central Appalachians of Virginia and West Virginia, the Virginia northern flying squirrel (Glaucomys sabrinus fuscus; VNFS) is a subspecies of northern flying squirrel generally associated with red spruce (Picea rubens)-dominated forests at high elevations. Listed as endangered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from 1985 to 2013, the VNFS currently is the subject of a 10-year post-delisting assessment. Still considered a state-listed species in Virginia and a species of greatest conservation need in West Virginia, the VNFS serves as a focal target for red spruce restoration activities in the High Allegheny Region (HAR) of the two states. Owing to the cryptic nature of VNFS and its low detection probability in live-capture surveys, managers in the region rely on habitat models to assess probable presence. Using long-term nest-box, live-trapping, and radio-telemetry data matched with updated high elevation forest-type coverage data for the region, we created a new VNFS resource selection function and spatial coverage map. Inputting red spruce cover, increasing elevation, and decreasing landform index (increasing site shelteredness) composed the best model explaining VNFS occurrence. The calculated amount of low-quality habitat was congruent with previous modeling efforts; however, inclusion of more VNFS occurrence records in the current effort indicated that previous efforts substantially underestimated the amount (>400%) of extant high quality VNFS habitat. We estimate the HAR to contain approximately 197,952 ha with ≥0.50 predicted probability of occurrence of VNFS. In addition to potentially improving current and future VNFS live-capture surveys, with this model managers may better target forests for red spruce restoration to increase high elevation forest ecological integrity and to improve habitat patch connectedness for VNFS.
  • Distribution of Summer Habitat for the Indiana Bat on the Monongahela National Forest, West Virginia
    De La Cruz, Jesse L.; Ford, W. Mark; Jones, Shane; Johnson, Joshua B.; Silvis, Alexander (2023-03)
    Hierarchical conservation and management of Indiana bat (Myotis sodalis) habitat may benefit from use of species distribution models. White-nose syndrome has caused additional declines for this endangered bat, requiring use of historical presence locations for habitat-related analyses. We created random forest presence/pseudo-absence models to assess the distribution and availability of Indiana bat habitat across the 670,000-ha Monongahela National Forest (MNF), West Virginia, USA. We collated historical roost and capture locations, both individually and in combination, to examine impacts of various biotic and abiotic predictors on roosting and foraging habitat of Indiana bats. Our final concordance map suggests that Indiana bat habitat was abundant (37.2% of the MNF) but localized, with predicted suitable areas often associated with edges of dry-calcareous forests. We observed significant variation between models, with the capture-only model independently identifying the greatest amount of potential habitat (47.8%). However, 21.9% of all potential Indiana bat habitat was identified by complete inter-model agreement. Our SDM outputs may assist land managers in identifying avoidance areas and new survey sites (i.e., capture and acoustic sampling) to support forest management activities.
  • Distribution of Northern Long-eared Bat Summer Habitat on the Monongahela National Forest, West Virginia
    De La Cruz, Jesse L.; Ford, W. Mark; Jones, Shane; Johnson, Joshua B.; Silvis, Alexander (2023-03)
    Species distribution models enable resource managers to avoid and mitigate impacts to, or enhance habitat of, target species at the landscape level. Persistent declines of northern long-eared bats (Myotis septentrionalis) due to white-nose syndrome have made acquisition of contemporary data difficult. Therefore, use of legacy data may be necessary for creation of species distribution models. We used historical roost and capture records, both individually and in combination, to assess the distribution and availability of northern long-eared bat habitat across the 670,000-ha Monongahela National Forest (MNF), West Virginia, USA. We created random forest presence/pseudo-absence models to examine influences of various biotic and abiotic predictors on both roosting and foraging presence locations of northern long-eared bats. Predicted northern long-eared bat habitat was abundant (43.1% of the MNF) and widely dispersed. Generally, all models suggested that northern long-eared bat habitat was characterized by interior forests containing linear edge features. We observed only 3.4% spatial overlap of habitat based on complete model agreement, but 38.5% of all habitat areas resulted from agreement between capture-only and combination models. Our models provide important assessments of habitat availability necessary for addressing state and federal conservation requirements on the MNF and adjacent eastern West Virginia mountains.
  • Broad-scale geographic and temporal assessment of northern long-eared bat (Myotis septentrionalis) maternity colony-landscape association
    Gorman, Katherine M.; Deeley, Sabrina M.; Barr, Elaine L.; Freeze, Samuel R.; Kalen, Nicholas; Muthersbaugh, Michael S.; Ford, W. Mark (Inter-Research, 2022-02-24)
    As the federally threatened northern long-eared bat Myotis septentrionalis continues to decline due to white-nose syndrome (WNS) impacts, the application of effective conservation measures is needed but often hindered by the lack of ecological data. To date, recommended management practices have been adopted in part from other federally listed sympatric species such as the endangered Indiana bat M. sodalis. During the maternity season, these measures have largely focused on conservation of known day-roost habitat, often with little consideration for foraging habitat, particularly riparian areas. We examined acoustic activity of northern longeared bats relative to day-roost and capture data at coastal and interior sites in the District of Columbia, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia, USA, over the course of 6 summers (2015-2020), where maternity activity was still documented after the initial arrival and spread of WNS. Acoustic activity of northern long-eared bats relative to forest cover decreased at the acoustic site level (fine scale) but increased at the sampling region level (coarse scale). We observed a positive association of northern long-eared bat acoustic activity with riparian areas. Additionally, we observed higher levels of activity during pregnancy through early lactation period of the reproductive cycle prior to juvenile volancy. Our findings suggest the need for more explicit inclusion of forested riparian habitats in northern long-eared bat conservation planning. Acoustic sampling in spring and early summer rather than mid- to late summer and in forested riparian areas is the most effective strategy for identifying potential active northern long-eared bat maternity colonies on the local landscape.
  • Unique Land Cover Classification to Assess Day-Roost Habitat Selection of Northern Long-Eared Bats on the Coastal Plain of North Carolina, USA
    De La Cruz, Jesse L.; True, Michael C.; Taylor, Hila; Brown, Dorothy C.; Ford, W. Mark (2022-05-19)
    Reproductively successful and over-wintering populations of the endangered northern longeared bat (Myotis septentrionalis) have recently been discovered on the Coastal Plain of North Carolina. Empirical data on resource selection within the region is limited, likely hindering management of these coastal forests. Our objectives were to determine roosting home range size, selection of day-roost tree species, second- and third-order roosting habitat selection, and to quantify the overall availability of resources in the surrounding landscape. We found core and peripheral roosting home range estimates were large, yet similar to observations from other areas of contiguous forests. Prior to juvenile volancy, female northern long-eared bats appear to select red maple (Acer rubrum), water ash (Fraxinus caroliniana), and loblolly pine (Pinus taeda) as day-roosts, but then use sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua), swamp bay (Persea palustris), and water tupelo (Nyssa aquatica) after juvenile volancy. At the second-order spatial scale, roosting home ranges were associated with woody wetlands farther from anthropogenic development and open water. However, within the third-order scale, northern long-eared bats were associated with undeveloped woody wetlands and upland forests, areas containing shorter trees and occurring proximal to open water. Peripheral and core areas were predicted to comprise approximately 20% of the local landscape. Our results show that complex and large tracts of woody wetlands juxtaposed with upland forests in this part of the Coastal Plain may be important for northern long-eared bats locally, results largely consistent with species management efforts in eastern North America.
  • Mid-Atlantic Big Brown and Eastern Red Bats: Relationships between Acoustic Activity and Reproductive Phenology
    Deeley, Sabrina; Ford, W. Mark; Kalen, Nicholas J.; Freeze, Samuel R.; St. Germain, Michael; Muthersbaugh, Michael; Barr, Elaine; Kniowski, Andrew; Silvis, Alexander; De La Cruz, Jesse (MDPI, 2022-04-21)
    Acoustic data are often used to describe bat activity, including habitat use within the summer reproductive period. These data inform management activities that potentially impact bats, currently a taxa of high conservation concern. To understand the relationship between acoustic and reproductive timing, we sampled big brown bats (Eptesicus fuscus) and eastern red bats (Lasiurus borealis) on 482 mist-netting and 35,410 passive acoustic sampling nights within the District of Columbia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia, 2015-2018. We documented the proportion of female, pregnant, lactating, and juvenile big brown and eastern red bats within each mist-net sampling event and calculated locally estimated non-parametric scatterplot smoothing (LOESS) lines for each reproductive and acoustic dataset. We compared the peak in acoustic activity with the peaks of each reproductive condition. We determined that the highest levels of acoustic activity within the maternity season were most associated with the period wherein we captured the highest proportions of lactating bats, not juvenile bats, as often assumed.
  • Context dependency of disease-mediated competitive release in bat assemblages following white-nose syndrome
    Bombaci, Sara P.; Russell, Robin E.; St Germain, Michael J.; Dobony, Christopher A.; Ford, W. Mark; Loeb, Susan C.; Jachowski, David S. (2021-11)
    White-nose syndrome (WNS) has caused dramatic declines of several cave-hibernating bat species in North America since 2006, which has increased the activity of non-susceptible species in some geographic areas or during times of night formerly occupied by susceptible species-indicative of disease-mediated competitive release (DMCR). Yet, this pattern has not been evaluated across multiple bat assemblages simultaneously or across multiple years since WNS onset. We evaluated whether WNS altered spatial and temporal niche partitioning in bat assemblages at four locations in the eastern United States using long-term datasets of bat acoustic activity collected before and after WNS arrival. Activity of WNS-susceptible bat species decreased by 79-98% from pre-WNS levels across the four study locations, but only one of our four study sites provided strong evidence supporting the DMCR hypothesis in bats post-WNS. These results suggest that DMCR is likely dependent on the relative difference in activity by susceptible and non-susceptible species groups pre-WNS and the relative decline of susceptible species post-WNS allowing for competitive release, as well as the amount of time that had elapsed post-WNS. Our findings challenge the generality of WNS-mediated competitive release between susceptible and non-susceptible species and further highlight declining activity of some non-susceptible species, especially Lasiurus borealis, across three of four locations in the eastern United States. These results underscore the broader need for conservation efforts to address the multiple potential interacting drivers of bat declines on both WNS-susceptible and non-susceptible species.
  • Summer-Habitat Suitability Modeling of Myotis sodalis (Indiana Bat) in the Eastern Mountains of West Virginia
    De La Cruz, Jesse L.; Ward, Ryan L. (Humboldt Field Research Institute, 2016-03)
    Little information exists with regard to suitable summer habitat of Myotis sodalis (Indiana Bat) in West Virginia. Our research objectives were to use ultrasonic acoustic equipment and automated identification software to collect presence data for Indiana Bats and to examine habitat characteristics and availability across the local landscape. We used a maximum entropy (MAXENT) approach to determine if the distribution of various ecological factors such as landuse/landcover, forest fragmentation, aspect, area solar radiation, slope, proximity to permanent water, and elevation influenced foraging-habitat suitability of Indiana Bats. We sampled across the 1160-ha Camp Dawson Collective Training Area in Preston County, WV, to determine Indiana Bat presence. We employed the collected presence data to examine habitat suitability within a 16,151-ha study area encompassing the training facility. Based on MAXENT results, we characterized highly suitable Indiana Bat habitat as including large tracts of contiguous forest cover (>200 ha) associated with low to modest slopes (<20°), road corridors, and areas of high solar radiation (>5.5 x 105 WH/m2). High (81–100%) and medium-high (61–80%) suitability classes were uncommon across the landscape (0.6% and 2.7%, respectively), with the broad medium-to-high suitability classes (41–100%) collectively comprising only 11.4% of the study area. Elevation (m) and aspect contributed little to the model and displayed low permutation importance that did not vary notably from the corresponding percent contribution. These variables, along with close proximity to permanent water (≤200 m away), are likely not limiting ecological factors. The results of this study supplement current knowledge of summer habitat of the Indiana Bat and provide land and wildlife managers localized guidance on conservation priorities within the region.
  • Terrestrial Wildlife in the Post-mined Appalachian Landscape: Status and Opportunities
    Lituma, Christopher M.; Cox, John J.; Spear, Stephen F.; Edwards, John W.; De La Cruz, Jesse L.; Muller, Lisa I.; Ford, W. Mark (Springer, 2021)
    Coal mining is an anthropogenic stressor that has impacted terrestrial and semi-aquatic wildlife in the Appalachian Plateau since European settlement. Creation of grassland and early-successional habitats resulting from mining in a forested landscape has resulted in novel, non-analog habitat conditions. Depending on the taxa, the extent of mining on the landscape, and reclamation practices, effects have ranged across a gradient of negative to positive. Forest-obligate species such as woodland salamanders and forest-interior birds or those that depend on aquatic systems in their life cycle have been most impacted. Others, such as grassland and early-successional bird species have responded favorably. Some bat species, as an unintended consequence, use legacy deep mines as winter hibernacula in a region with limited karst geology. Recolonization of impacted wildlife often depends on life strategies and species’ vagility, but also on altered or arrested successional processes on the post-surface mine landscape. Many wildlife species will benefit from Forest Reclamation Approach practices going forward. In the future, managers will be faced with decisions about reforestation versus maintaining open habitats depending on the conservation need of species. Lastly, the post-mined landscape currently is the focal point for a regional effort to restore elk (Cervus canadensis) in the Appalachians.
  • Landscape Characteristics Related to Use of Artificial Roosts by Northern Long-eared Bats in North-central West Virginia
    De La Cruz, Jesse L.; Ward, Ryan L.; Schroder, Eric S. (Humboldt Field Research Institute, 2018-09-01)
    In the eastern US, research is needed on the establishment and evaluation of conservation measures for forest-dwelling bats, in general, and for the newly listed Myotis septentrionalis (Northern Long-Eared Bat), in particular. Our objectives were to evaluate the overall use of 3 artificial roosting structures-rocket box, nursery box, and artificial bark-by bats and to relate this use to local landscape characteristics in north-central West Virginia. We monitored 306 structures during summer 2016 and detected use (i.e., presence of guano, visual identification, capture of bats) at 132 (43%) roosts, of which 55 (42%) were confirmed, through capture or visual identification, to contain Northern Long-eared Bats. Nursery boxes were used more than expected based on availability (60%), but rocket boxes accounted for 40 (73%) of the roosts confirmed to be occupied by Northern Long-eared Bats, with 70% being used by maternity colonies of this species. We utilized binomial generalized linear models and an information theoretic approach to examine use of artificial roosts by maternity colonies of Northern Long-eared Bats. Our best-supported model differentiating structures occupied by maternity colonies from those that housed individual bats showed relationships to elevation, slope, area solar radiation, and distance to streams and large (>200 ha) forests. Our study provides initial guidance for land and wildlife managers on implementing an effective conservation and management technique for bats within this region.
  • Post-white-nose syndrome passive acoustic sampling effort for determining bat species occupancy within the mid-Atlantic region
    Deeley, Sabrina M.; Kalen, Nicholas J.; Freeze, Samuel R.; Barr, Elaine L.; Ford, W. Mark (2021-06)
    We assessed the sampling effort requirements for detecting the presence of extant bat species following the impact of white-nose syndrome in the mid-Atlantic region of the United States. We acoustically sampled 27,796 nights across 846 sites between 15 May and 15 August 2016-2018 within the District of Columbia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia. We developed simulations to determine the number of sites required to document bat species when each site was sampled different numbers of nights. We examined these simulations with respect to land cover, physiographic region, and time period. We generally found that sampling a greater number of sample sites within a survey area increased detection more than increasing the number of nights at individual sampling sites. The sampling effort required to detect a given bat species varied by species, as well as land-cover type and physiographic region. Our results suggest that land managers and researchers should use caution in using protocols developed with other objectives, e.g., the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service endangered and threatened bat species and the North American Bat monitoring programs? methods are designed relative to their specific needs. Unfortunately, neither protocol may be adequate for accurately detecting bat communities within all mid-Atlantic areas.
  • Winter roost selection of Lasiurine tree bats in a pyric landscape
    Jorge, Marcelo H.; Ford, W. Mark; Sweeten, Sara E.; Freeze, Samuel R.; True, Michael C.; St Germain, Michael J.; Taylor, Hila; Gorman, Katherine M.; Garrison, Elina P.; Cherry, Michael J. (2021-02-09)
    Day-roost selection by Lasiurine tree bats during winter and their response to dormant season fires is unknown in the southeastern United States where dormant season burning is widely applied. Although fires historically were predominantly growing season, they now occur in the dormant season in this part of the Coastal Plain to support a myriad of stewardship activities, including habitat management for game species. To examine the response of bats to landscape condition and the application of prescribed fire, in the winter of 2019, we mist-netted and affixed radio-transmitters to 16 Lasiurine bats, primarily Seminole bats (Lasiurus seminolus) at Camp Blanding Joint Training Center in northern Florida. We then located day-roost sites to describe roost attributes. For five Seminole bats, one eastern red bat (Lasiurus borealis), and one hoary bat (Lasiurus cinereus), we applied prescribed burns in the roost area to observe bat response in real-time. Generally, Seminole bats selected day-roosts in mesic forest stands with high mean fire return intervals. At the roost tree scale, Seminole day-roosts tended to be larger, taller and in higher canopy dominance classes than surrounding trees. Seminole bats roosted in longleaf (Pinus palustris), slash (Pinus elliotii) and loblolly pine (Pinus taeda) more than expected based on availability, whereas sweetbay (Magnolia virginiana), water oak (Quercus nigra) and turkey oak (Quercus laevis), were roosted in less than expected based on availability. Of the seven roosts subjected to prescribed burns, only one male Seminole bat and one male eastern red bat evacuated during or immediately following burning. In both cases, these bats had day-roosted at heights lower than the majority of other day-roosts observed during our study. Our results suggest Seminole bats choose winter day-roosts that both maximize solar exposure and minimize risks associated with fire. Nonetheless, because selected day-roosts largely were fire-dependent or tolerant tree species, application of fire does need to periodically occur to promote recruitment and retention of suitable roost sites.
  • Monitoring Nontimber Forest Products Using Forest Inventory Data: An Example with Slippery Elm Bark
    Kauffman, Jobriath S.; Prisley, Stephen P.; Chamberlain, James L. (2017-07)
    The USDA Forest Service Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) program collects data on a wealth of variables related to trees in forests. Some of these trees produce nontimber forest products (NTFPs) (e.g., fruit, bark, and sap) that are harvested for culinary, decorative, building, and medicinal purposes. At least 11 tree species inventoried by FIA are valued for their bark. For example, slippery elm (Ulmus rubra Muhl.) is included in FIA forest inventories, and the bark is used for its medicinal value. Despite widespread use of NTFPs, little quantitative information about abundance, distribution, and harvest is available to support sustainable management. Methods for using the FIA database to monitor and explain the situation regarding selected NTFPs are presented. The focus is on using FIA data to assess for (1) geographic distribution, (2) abundance, (3) applicable metrics (e.g., square feet of bark), and (4) change over time.
  • Characterization of golden-cheeked warbler Dendroica chrysoparia habitat at Fort Hood, Texas, USA
    Emrick, Verl III (2019-05-26)
    The golden-cheeked warbler Dendroica chrysoparia is a federally endangered, neotropical-nearctic migrant songbird that breeds in central Texas, USA, and prefers mature, closed canopy oak–Ashe juniper woodlands for nesting and foraging. Fort Hood is an 87 890 ha military reservation located in central Texas in Bell and Coryell Counties on the eastern edge of the Edwards Plateau ecoregion. We surveyed for golden-cheeked warblers and measured habitat variables at 95 separate locations in a 56.6 km2 research area that supports a golden-cheeked warbler breeding population. We detected golden-cheeked warblers on 34 of 95 (36%) point count locations. Principal component analysis was used to reduce the 27 habitat variables to a set of uncorrelated variables. This analysis resulted in the identification of 4 principal components that accounted for 52% of the variance. Logistic regression identified one principal component (ratio of Ashe juniper to other woody species) that was strongly related to golden-cheeked warbler occurrence. Our data indicate that a 4:1 ratio of Ashe juniper to other woody species is an important feature of occupied golden cheeked warbler habitat, particularly in the mid- to upper canopy at Fort Hood.
  • A Comparison of Systematic Quadrat and Capture-Mark-Recapture Sampling Designs for Assessing Freshwater Mussel Populations
    Carey, Caitlin; Jones, Jess W.; Butler, Robert S.; Kelly, Marcella J.; Hallerman, Eric M. (MDPI, 2019-08-07)
    Our study objective was to compare the relative effectiveness and efficiency of quadrat and capture-mark-recapture (CMR) sampling designs for monitoring mussels. We collected data on a recently reintroduced population of federally endangered Epioblasma capsaeformis and two nonlisted, naturally occurring species—Actinonaias pectorosa and Medionidus conradicus—in the Upper Clinch River, Virginia, over two years using systematic quadrat and CMR sampling. Both sampling approaches produced similar estimates of abundance; however, precision of estimates varied between approaches, years, and among species, and further, quadrat sampling efficiency of mussels detectable on the substrate surface varied among species. CMR modeling revealed that capture probabilities for all three study species varied by time and were positively associated with shell length, that E. capsaeformis detection was influenced by sex, and that year-to-year apparent survival was high (>96%) for reintroduced E. capsaeformis. We recommend that monitoring projects use systematic quadrat sampling when the objective is to estimate and detect trends in abundance for species of moderate to high densities (>0.2/m2), whereas a CMR component should be incorporated when objectives include assessing reintroduced populations, obtaining reliable estimates of survival and recruitment, or producing unbiased population estimates for species of low to moderate densities (≤0.2/m2).
  • Year-round monitoring reveals prevalence of fatal bird-window collisions at the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center
    Schneider, Rebecca; Barton, Christine M.; Zirkle, Keith W.; Greene, Caitlin F.; Newman, Kara B. (PeerJ, 2018-04-04)
    Collisions with glass are a serious threat to avian life and are estimated to kill hundreds of millions of birds per year in the United States. We monitored 22 buildings at the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center (VTCRC) in Blacksburg, Virginia, for collision fatalities from October 2013 through May 2015 and explored possible effects exerted by glass area and surrounding land cover on avian mortality. We documented 240 individuals representing 55 identifiable species that died due to collisions with windows at the VTCRC. The relative risk of fatal collisions at all buildings over the study period were estimated using a Bayesian hierarchical zero-inflated Poisson model adjusting for percentage of tree and lawn cover within 50 m of buildings, as well as for glass area. We found significant relationships between fatalities and surrounding lawn area (relative risk: 0.96, 95% credible interval: 0.93, 0.98) as well as glass area on buildings (RR: 1.30, 95% CI [1.05-1.65]). The model also found a moderately significant relationship between fatal collisions and the percent land cover of ornamental trees surrounding buildings (RR = 1.02, 95% CI [1.00-1.05]). Every building surveyed had at least one recorded collision death. Our findings indicate that birds collide with VTCRC windows during the summer breeding season in addition to spring and fall migration. The Ruby-throated Hummingbird (Archilochus colubris) was the most common window collision species and accounted for 10% of deaths. Though research has identified various correlates with fatal bird-window collisions, such studies rarely culminate in mitigation. We hope our study brings attention, and ultimately action, to address this significant threat to birds at the VTCRC and elsewhere.
  • Climate characteristics of the Big Levels region, Augusta County, Virginia
    Klopfer, Scott D. (Virginia Natural History Society, 1999)
  • A Range-Wide Meta-Analysis of Wild Turkey Nesting Phenology and Spring Season Opening Dates
    Whitaker, Darroch M.; Pack, James C.; Norman, Gary W.; Stauffer, Dean F.; Klopfer, Scott D. (Michigan Department of Natural Resources, 2005)
    Timing of nesting is an important consideration when setting opening dates for spring male-only wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) hunts. We conducted a meta-analysis in which we used mean dates of incubation initiation from 58 studies to evaluate a priori models hypothesized to predict turkey nesting phenology across the species’ range. Models were based on geographic setting, climate, and management activities, and had weak to moderate explanatory power (Range R2 adj = 0.12–0.55). We developed 2 post hoc models to better predict mean incubation date, and used one of these to generate a range-wide map predicting timing of nest incubation. A second model selection exercise focused solely on the eastern subspecies of wild turkey, and our best model of incubation date included population status and a cubic term for latitude (n =41, R2 adj = 0.80). Lastly, we compared incubation initiation dates to opening dates for spring male-only hunting in each jurisdiction. Of 34 states and provinces for which we obtained data, 25 opened spring hunting 2 weeks prior to the mean date of incubation initiation, and 18 of these also allowed fall either-sex hunting. This finding is noteworthy because extended fall seasons and spring hunting during the pre-nesting period can lead to additive and unsustainable levels of female kill.
  • Drought but not population density influences dietary niche breadth in white-tailed deer in a semiarid environment
    Folks, Donald J.; Gann, Kory; Fulbright, Timothy E.; Hewitt, David G.; DeYoung, Charles A.; Wester, David B.; Echols, Kim N.; Draeger, Don A. (Ecological Society of America, 2014-12)
    A premise in ungulate foraging theory is that animals become less selective and expand the breadth of their dietary niche as the availability of palatable forage declines with increasing herbivore population density or drought. Increased niche variation resulting from intraspecific competition is thought to create less similar diet composition and decreased diet overlap between individuals within a population at higher densities than between individuals within less dense populations. These ideas were largely developed in relatively mesic environments and their applicability to ungulate foraging in semiarid environments is unclear. We tested the idea that white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) contract dietary niche breadth; reduce dietary plant species diversity, richness, and evenness; and become more individualistic in forage choices in response to a fourfold difference in population density (12 deer/km(2) versus 50 deer/km(2)) in semiarid shrubland in Texas, USA. We used the bite count method to determine diet composition of tame female white-tailed deer seasonally during summer 2009 to spring 2011. We were able to determine impacts of drought on foraging dynamics a posteriori because sampling during each season fortuitously occurred under both drought and non-drought conditions. Population density did not affect diet richness, diversity, breadth, evenness, overlap, and similarity. Diet richness, diversity, breadth, and evenness tended to be greater in non-drought conditions. For white-tailed deer, the idea that dietary niches expand in response to increasing population density is not robust across environments. In semiarid environments, variation in precipitation has a much stronger influence on dietary niche breath and intraspecific diet overlap of deer than population density does.