Evaluating wildlife response to vegetation restoration on reclaimed mine lands in southwestern Virginia
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I observed 80 bird species using reclaimed areas, clearcuts, and mature forest. Pre-regulation sites (prior to the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977) supported the highest number of species overall. Cluster analysis identified 4 bird associations based on habitat characteristics. I developed site-specific, landscape-level, and mixed-scale logistic regression models to identify habitat characteristics that best predicted the presence of 27 species. For 18 species, mixed-scale models performed best, suggesting the importance of a multi-scale approach to habitat analysis.
Salamanders were generally not detected on reclaimed areas, possibly due to the lack of soil moisture, leaf litter, and woody debris on young sites. Frogs were present in all water bodies surveyed, suggesting the importance of managing ponds and wetlands on reclaimed sites. Identifying and focusing on important habitat characteristics will help managers enhance post-mining land for wildlife.
- Masters Theses