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Geographic information system (GIS) technology was used to identify habitats available to and used by male American woodcock (Scolopax minor) equipped with radio transmitters--54 in 1987, 51 in 1988, 46 in 1989 at Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge, Maine. Woodcock were monitored from time of capture (25 March-15 April) to 15 June each year. To determine habitat selection by male woodcock, the following habitat characteristics were measured: land cover, age and stocking density of the forest overstory, soil drainage and texture, aspect, and percent slope. Habitat selection was examined as affected by the covariates weather and age-class of woodcock, and among years for diurnal and crepuscular periods of the breeding period. Multivariate techniques that compare use and availability of habitats were not available, so a statistical model was developed to rate importance of multiple habitat characteristics selected by woodcock. The most critical period for woodcock in terms of survival was from arrival to: mid-April. Second-year and after-second-year woodcock did not select different (P > 0.05) habitat types, but they did select different types among years and within breeding intervals (P < 0.05). In years when weather was moderate, woodcock selected young, dense stands of speckled alder (Alnus rugosa) and hardwoods, interspersed with forest openings. Suitable habitat can be maintained by creating an uneven-aged forest managed in even-aged blocks composed of several hardwood species. Managers can now quantify suitable woodcock habitat in a GIS and plan large-scale forest-harvesting strategies using data on several habitat characteristics (e.g., land cover, stand age, stocking density, soil drainage and texture, and aspect).
Additional Publication Details
Assessing habitat selection in Spring by male American Woodcock in Maine with a geographic information system