Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design


Wildlife and Fisheries Resources

Committee Chair

Petra Bohall Wood.


Cerulean Warblers (Dendroica cerulea) were studied in southwestern West Virginia where the coal mining technique of mountaintop mining/valley fill (MTMVF) continues to perforate large contiguous tracts of deciduous forest. My study objectives were to (1) quantify abundance and probability of occurrence of Cerulean Warblers relative to distance from large-scale edge (defined as reclaimed MTMVF sites) and (2) relate habitat structure and landscape characteristics to the species' probability of occurrence. Cerulean Warbler abundance increased significantly (P < 0.10) with distance from reclaimed mine edge. However, percent occurrence relative to distance from mine edge was not significant, suggesting a degree of tolerance to the large-scale edge created by MTMVF. Abundance was significantly greater on ridges than bottomlands. Percent occurrence did not differ among the three slope positions but followed a trend similar to abundance. Consequently, disturbances such as MTMVF in which ridges are removed may have a greater impact on populations compared to other sources of fragmentation where ridges are not disturbed. Other habitat structure analyses suggest good indicators of Cerulean Warbler presence are the more productive sites on northwest to east facing slopes and low sapling density. Similarly, Cerulean Warbler abundance was positively associated with more productive sites and snag density. Important landscape characteristics positively associated with abundance were large blocks of mature deciduous forest and low edge density. Mountaintop mining/valley fill alters the spatial configuration of forested habitats in southwestern West Virginia, thus creating less suitable habitat and edge effects that negatively affect Cerulean Warbler abundance, occurrence, and distribution in the reclaimed mine landscape.