Identifier

etd-07092009-133247

Degree

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Renewable Natural Resources

Document Type

Thesis

Abstract

The red-cockaded woodpecker (Picoides borealis; hereafter RCW) is a cooperative breeder endemic to open old-growth pine savannah ecosystems in the southeastern United States (Jackson 1994). The RCW was listed as federally endangered in 1973, after a population decline due to habitat loss. Habitat fragmentation produces isolated populations of RCWs, which in turn ultimately limits the success of the species. RCW biologists and managers counteract effects of fragmentation by aggregating recruitment clusters and translocation. Although several studies examined subadult RCW translocation, detailed studies examining adult translocation have been limited. My study was conducted on a 3500 ha area owned by Plum Creek Timber Company located in Morehouse Parish, Louisiana from 2006 to 2008. My primary objective was to evaluate the success and feasibility of using adult RCWs for translocation and augmentation of existing populations. Plum Creek managers translocated 41 RCWs, consisting of 12 potential breeding groups (PBGs) and 5 single bird groups (SBGs) to suitable habitat at the Morehouse Parish Conservation Area (hereafter MPCA). Fifty-nine percent of the translocated RCWs remained on the MPCA and 45% of individual RCWs became breeders. Forty-four percent of translocated RCWs were breeding in year 2, suggesting that translocated adult RCWs can beneficially augment the population after 2 breeding seasons. Fledgling numbers contributed by translocated RCWs ranged from 11-30% of the total fledglings on the MPCA. There were 5 PBGs established on the MPCA from translocated RCWs and 20% of the fledglings had ≥1 translocated parent. Microhabitat characteristics and landscape features were not important predictors of occupancy for RCWs on available clusters within the MPCA or translocation success. Success rates for translocation in our study were lower than previous studies where subadults were translocated. Nevertheless, because previous research has suggested that demographically isolated groups have a high risk of abandonment and thus do not contribute to the recovery of the species (Walters and Priddy 2005), the success rates I observed suggest that translocating adult groups may be a useful tool in RCW recovery.

Date

2009

Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Michael Chamberlain

Share

COinS