Date of Graduation
Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design
Wildlife and Fisheries Resources
John W Edwards
Scott H Stoleson
Understanding the impacts of forest management and severe storms on avian communities can assist decision making for specific wildlife and timber management goals. This is important because even carefully managed forests will be influenced by a combination of anthropogenic activities and non-anthropogenic forces. I studied the effects of prescribed burning and severe storm events on vegetation structure and avian community diversity and structure in the Monongahela National Forest in central West Virginia. I observed dramatic responses from vegetation structure to prescribed burning but few changes in avian abundances. I measured further impacts, particularly understory vegetation structure, in our forest stands after the occurrence of two severe storms. I also was able to measure a greater response by my aerial insectivore species to the combination of management and storm impacts. My results suggested that infrequent low-intensity prescribed burning did not cause dramatic changes to avian abundance. However, when severe storm impacts were added to the management regime, the impacts to vegetation became consequential enough that high priority and aerial insectivore bird species were also impacted.;Populations of the eastern whip-poor-will (Antrostomus vociferus ) are declining due to a range of potential factors including habitat loss, pesticide use and predation. However, because this species is nocturnal, it is poorly studied and neither its ecology nor its demographic status are well measured by traditional bird surveys like the Christmas Bird Count, Breeding Bird Surveys, and point count surveys. Therefore, I studied habitat associations and distribution of eastern whip-poor-wills, to better understand and contextualize their population status and to provide a framework for future research and management. Transect data were analyzed with occupancy models to associate presence of whip-poor-wills with habitat characteristics. I observed habitat associations of and annual differences in both presence and density of whip-poor-wills. Whip-poor-wills most frequently occupied areas lower in elevation and mixed forest, herbaceous, as well as wetland cover types. In contrast, high elevation evergreen forest communities had substantially fewer whip-poor-wills. My results suggest that recent recovery of agricultural fields and clearings to forested habitat may be contributing factors to whip-poor-will declines.
Slover, Christina, "Impacts of forest management and habitat change on declining avian species in West Virginia" (2015). Graduate Theses, Dissertations, and Problem Reports. 6657.