Animal Sciences | Biology


In the West Gulf Coastal Plains (WGCP) northern bobwhite (Colinus virginianus) are declining faster than range-wide averages and such declines have been linked to the consequences of land management. Management for the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker (Picoides borealis) has benefitted northern bobwhite by restoring mature pine-grassland ecosystems in some areas of the region. However, at Felsenthal National Wildlife Refuge, Crossett, Arkansas, USA, the bobwhite population was not increasing despite the availability of seemingly suitable habitat from management for the endangered species. To understand factors that may be affecting bobwhite survival on Felsenthal National Wildlife Refuge we conducted a telemetry study and assessed summer survival, brood survival, and nest success from 1 April– 11 August in 2013 and 1 April– 15 August in 2014. We also calculated home-range sizes and measured microhabitat characteristics around nests. Summer survival rates were 71% (SE = 0.17) and 47% (SE = 0.14); while nest success was 47% (SE = 0.02) and 100% for 2013 and 2014, respectively. Between years, both 95% and 50% kernel home-ranges were not different (pooled, 63.92±6.07 ha and 14.94±1.75 ha); however minimum convex polygon home-range sizes were (113.8 ± 20.1 ha in 2013; and 393.1 ± 49.0 ha in 2014, P < 0.001). Only numerical differences in microhabitat vegetation characteristics of nest sites and non- nest sites were observed. We suggest management for red-cockaded woodpeckers supports bobwhite populations but only as a buffer against more severe declines. Since bobwhites are declining range-wide, we believe areas federally managed for red-cockaded woodpeckers will become increasingly more important for sustaining regional bobwhite population levels.

Original Citation

Doggett, J. W., & Locher, A. (2018). Assessment of northern bobwhite survival and fitness in the West Gulf Coastal Plain ecoregion. PLOS ONE, 13(7), e0200544. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0200544