Short-term effects of prescribed burning on bird communities in coastal Pine Savanna

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Faulkner, Douglas W.
Chandler, C. Ray
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Thesis (M.S.)
Department of Biology
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A substantial portion of the remaining coastal pine savanna in the southeastern U.S. is burned periodically to maintain habitat for the endangered Mississippi Sandhill Crane (Grus canadensis pulla). However, the effects of this burning on other species of birds are unknown. Therefore, a one-summer study was conducted to determine the short-term response of non-target bird species to changes in vegetation structure due to winter prescribed burning of coastal pine savanna. Eight 25-ha study plots were censused using the spot-mapping technique from May - July 1995 at the Mississippi Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuge. More species were observed on old burn sites (burned 1.5 - 3.5 yr prior to the study) than new burn sites (burned the previous winter). Gross vegetation features did not differ between treatments. A total of 17 breeding species were recorded during the study. Although there were no significant differences within individual species' densities, seven species were observed only on old burn sites. Winter prescribed burning affected the presence of only shrub-characteristic species.