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Keywords:

  • brush management;
  • Colinus virginianus;
  • distance sampling;
  • northern bobwhite;
  • prescribed fire

ABSTRACT Our study evaluated the effects of prescribed fire on northern bobwhites (Colinus virginianus) occupying native rangelands in Rolling Plains of Texas, USA, during 2002 and 2003. Prescribed fires were conducted during February of 1996, 1998, and 2000; pastures with no recent treatment history served as controls. We quantified bobwhite densities from line transects using distance sampling. We used a repeated-measures analysis of variance to test for treatment-year differences in bobwhite densities. We measured postfire herbaceous and woody vegetation attributes and evaluated vegetation relationships to bobwhite density using simple linear regression. We found significant between-year differences in fall bobwhite densities (F = 13.05, df = 3, P = 0.036) but no differences among treatments or controls. Fall bobwhite densities were inversely related to visual obstruction (r2 = 0.179, df = 15, P = 0.058) and positively associated with increasing heterogeneity of grass cover (r2 = 0.416, df = 15, P = 0.004). Our results suggest prescribed fire at large spatial scales may be a neutral practice for managing bobwhite habitat on semiarid rangelands.