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Keywords:

  • call counts;
  • Geographic Infromation System;
  • habitat correlations;
  • Mississippi;
  • mourning dove;
  • Zenaida macroura.

ABSTRACT Mourning dove (Zenaida macroura) call-count surveys in Mississippi, USA, suggest declining populations. We used available mourning dove call-count data to evaluate long-term mourning dove habitat relationships. Dove routes were located in the Mississippi Alluvial Valley, Deep Loess Province, Mid Coastal Plain, and Hilly Coastal Plain physiographic provinces of Mississippi. We also included routes in the Blackbelt Prairie region of Mississippi and Alabama, USA. We characterized landscape structure and composition within 1.64-km buffers around 10 selected mourning dove call-count routes during 3 time periods. Habitat classes included agriculture, forest, urban, regeneration stands, wetland, and woodlot. We used Akaike's Information Criterion to select the best candidate model. We selected a model containing percent agriculture and edge density that contained approximately 40% of the total variability in the data set. Percent agriculture was positively correlated with relative dove abundance. Interestingly, we found a negative relationship between edge density and dove abundance. Researchers should conduct future research on dove nesting patterns in Mississippi and threshold levels of edge necessary to maximize dove density. During the last 20 years, Mississippi lost more than 800,000 ha of cropland while forest cover represented largely by pine (Pinus taeda) plantations increased by more than 364,000 ha. Our results suggest observed localized declines in mourning dove abundance in Mississippi may be related to the documented conversion of agricultural lands to pine plantations.