The mourning dove (Zenaida macroura) call-count index had a significant (P < 0.01) negative trend in South Carolina and the Eastern Management Unit (EMU) during 1988-97. We initiated a banding study in 2 areas in the Coastal Plain of South Carolina to estimate population demographic parameters of doves to generate hypotheses that address the purported population declines. During 1992-96, we banded >2,300 doves and examined >6,000 individuals during harvest bag checks. An age-specific band recovery model with time- and area-specific recovery rates, and constant survival rates, was chosen for estimation via Akaike's Information Criterion (AIC), likelihood ratio, and goodness-of-fit criteria. After-hatching-year (AHY) annual survival rate was 0.359 (SE = 0.056), and hatching-year (HY) annual survival rate was 0.118 (SE = 0.042). Average estimated recruitment per adult female into the prehunting season population was 3.40 (SE = 1.25) and 2.32 (SE = 0.46) for the 2 study areas. Our movement data support earlier hypotheses of nonmigratory breeding and harvested populations in South Carolina. Low survival rates and estimated population growth rate in the study areas may be representative only of small-scale areas that are heavily managed for dove hunting. Source-sink theory was used to develop a model of region-wide populations that is composed of source areas with positive growth rates and sink areas of declining growth. We suggest management of mourning doves in the Southeast might benefit from improved understanding of local population dynamics, as opposed to regional-scale population demographics.
Additional publication details
Population demographics of two local South Carolina mourning dove populations