Looking beyond rare species as umbrella species: Northern Bobwhites (Colinus virginianus) and conservation of grassland and shrubland birds

Biological Conservation
Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation at Oklahoma State University; Oklahoma Agricultural Experiment Station at Oklahoma State University; The Nature Conservancy's Weaver Grant Program; Oklahoma Ornithological Society; Michigan State Univ, Dept Fisheries & Wildlife; Oklahoma State Univ, Dept Nat Resource Ecol & ManagementPayne County Audubon Society
By: , and 

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Abstract

Changes in land use and land cover throughout the eastern half of North America have caused substantial declines in populations of birds that rely on grassland and shrubland vegetation types, including socially and economically important game birds such as the Northern Bobwhite (Colinus virginianus; hereafter bobwhites). As much attention is focused on habitat management and restoration for bobwhites, they may act as an umbrella species for other bird species with similar habitat requirements. We quantified the relationship of bobwhites to the overall bird community and evaluated the potential for bobwhites to act as an umbrella species for grassland and shrubland birds. We monitored bobwhite presence and bird community composition within 31 sample units on selected private lands in the south-central United States from 2009 to 2011. Bobwhites were strongly associated with other grassland and shrubland birds and were a significant positive predictor for 9 species. Seven of these, including Bell's Vireo (Vireo bell), Dicksissel (Spiza americana), and Grasshopper Sparrow (Ammodramus savannarum), are listed as species of conservation concern. Species richness and occupancy probability of grassland and shrubland birds were higher relative to the overall bird community in sample units occupied by bobwhites. Our results show that bobwhites can act as an umbrella species for grassland and shrubland birds, although the specific species in any given situation will depend on region and management objectives. These results suggest that efficiency in conservation funding can be increased by using public interest in popular game species to leverage resources to meet multiple conservation objectives.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Looking beyond rare species as umbrella species: Northern Bobwhites (Colinus virginianus) and conservation of grassland and shrubland birds
Series title Biological Conservation
DOI 10.1016/j.biocon.2015.03.018
Volume 186
Year Published 2015
Language English
Publisher Elsevier Science Ltd.
Publisher location Kidlington, Oxford
Contributing office(s) Coop Res Unit Atlanta
Description 8 p.
First page 233
Last page 240
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N