Principal Investigator: David E. Andersen.
Student: Kyle Daly (M.S., Natural Resources Science and Management – Wildlife Ecology and Management).
Status: Pilot study conducted at Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge in 2009 and 2010. First project field season completed in 2011 and second field season completed in 2012. M.S. student completed coursework in 2012 and 2013. M.S. student defended thesis in August 2014.
American woodcock (Scolopax minor) populations have shown long-term numerical declines in both the Eastern and Central Management Regions. Many stakeholders believe that the long-term declines are primarily caused by habitat loss due to forest succession. In response, the Migratory Shore and Upland Game Bird Working Group of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies formed the Woodcock Taskforce to develop a conservation plan with a goal to stabilize and ultimately reverse the declines. The taskforce completed the American Woodcock Conservation Plan in 2008, which contains both population and habitat goals. Under the leadership of the Wildlife Management Institute, partners have formed 3 regional woodcock initiatives to begin implementing the habitat goals of the conservation plan. After considering the alternatives, initiative cooperators believed that the best way to influence landscape change and ultimately increase woodcock populations was to develop a system of demonstration areas where specific best management practices (BMPs) are applied throughout the woodcock breeding range. They thought that if public land managers and/or private landowners could view the BMPs at demonstration areas, they would be more likely to apply the practices on the lands that they manage. Through time, if enough managers and landowners adopt the BMPs used on demonstration areas, initiative cooperators expect populations to increase because of improved habitat conditions. However, how woodcock respond to application of best management practices is not well understood, and baseline information on population dynamics at demonstration areas is lacking.
The overall objectives of this project are to estimate baseline demographic parameters for woodcock at demonstration areas and to evaluate techniques for measuring woodcock response to habitat management. Specifically, our objectives are:
- Gather baseline data regarding displaying male woodcock use of a demonstration area in west-central Minnesota and compare demonstration area indices of abundance with indices from surrounding areas surveyed through the American Woodcock Singing-ground Survey. Our hypothesis is that indices at demonstration areas that are actively being managed for woodcock will be higher than indices from surrounding landscapes.
- Estimate adult female survival, nest success, and brood survival and relate these parameters to habitat variables.
- Evaluate the use of night lighting and mist nests capture techniques to estimate recruitment at summer roost fields.