Influence of conservation reserve program mid-contract management and landscape composition on northern bobwhite in tall fescue monocultures

Authors

  • Douglas C. Osborne,

    Corresponding author
    1. Cooperative Wildlife Research Laboratory and Department of Zoology, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, IL 62901-6504, USA
    Current affiliation:
    1. Department of Forestry, Wildlife, and Fisheries, University of Tennessee, Institute of Agriculture, 274 Ellington Plant Sciences Building, Knoxville, TN 37996-4563, USA.
    • Cooperative Wildlife Research Laboratory and Department of Zoology, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, IL 62901-6504, USA
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Donald W. Sparling,

    1. Cooperative Wildlife Research Laboratory and Department of Zoology, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, IL 62901-6504, USA
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Robert L. Hopkins II

    1. School of Science, University of Rio Grande, Rio Grande, OH 45674-3100, USA
    Search for more papers by this author

  • Associate Editor: Christopher Williams

Abstract

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) authorized mid-contract management (MCM) in 2004 to restore and maintain plant species composition and structural diversity in aging Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) fields for the northern bobwhite (Colinus virginianus) and other grassland-dependent wildlife. We implemented 3 USDA-approved MCM regimes (i.e., strip disking, strip glyphosate spraying, and strip glyphosate spraying in combination with legume interseeding) in 60 tall fescue (Festuca arundinaceae) CRP monocultures in south-central Illinois, USA, during 2005–2008. We hypothesized that adult bobwhite relative densities and brood presence would increase following MCM that effectively restored early successional plant communities in otherwise monotypic stands of tall fescue. We estimated annual adult bobwhite relative densities and brood presence-absence in managed and unmanaged CRP. We modeled vegetation characteristics and landscape composition to identify factors influencing adult densities and brood presence. Adult relative densities were 2-fold greater in managed fields than in unmanaged fields, and were negatively correlated with greater percentages of grass cover. Adult densities were positively correlated with greater plant species diversity, and greater percentages of bare ground and legume cover. Logistic regression and odds ratio estimates indicated that fields managed with glyphosate-interseed and glyphosate treatments were 39.6% more likely to have broods than unmanaged CRP, whereas disked fields were 10.0% more likely than unmanaged CRP. These models indicated that the probability of brood presence was greater in fields with increased percentage of bare ground, greater plant species diversity, and decreased percentage of grass and litter cover. These findings suggest that a 3-year rotation of glyphosate or glyphosate-interseed treatments can enhance habitat conditions for adult bobwhites and broods in CRP tall fescue monocultures. © 2011 The Wildlife Society.

Ancillary