Reproductive success and habitat characteristics of Golden-winged Warblers in high-elevation pasturelands

Wilson Journal of Ornithology
By:  and 



The Golden-winged Warbler (Vermivora chrysoptera) is one of the most rapidly declining vertebrate species in the Appalachian Mountains. It is the subject of extensive range-wide research and conservation action. However, little is known about this species' breeding ecology in high-elevation pasturelands, a breeding habitat with conservation potential considering the U.S. Natural Resource Conservation Service's Working Lands for Wildlife program targeting private lands in the Appalachian Mountains. We located 100 nests of Golden-winged Warblers in pastures in and around the Monongahela National Forest in West Virginia during 2008–2012. Daily nest survival rate (mean ± SE  =  0.962 ± 0.006), clutch size (4.5 ± 0.1), and number of young fledged per nest attempt (2.0 ± 0.2) and successful nest (4.0 ± 0.1) fell within the range of values reported in other parts of the species' range and were not significantly affected by year or the presence/absence of cattle grazing. Classification tree analysis revealed that nests were in denser vegetation (≥52%) and closer to forest edges (<36.0 m) and shrubs (<7.0 cm) than random locations within the male's territory. Successful nests had significantly more woody cover (≥9%) within 1 m than failed nests. Our results suggest that cattle grazing at 1.2–2.4 ha of forage/animal unit with periodic mowing can create and maintain these characteristics without interfering with the nesting of Golden-winged Warblers. High-elevation pasturelands may provide a refuge for remaining populations of Golden-winged Warblers in this region.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Reproductive success and habitat characteristics of Golden-winged Warblers in high-elevation pasturelands
Series title Wilson Journal of Ornithology
DOI 10.1676/13-114.1
Volume 126
Issue 2
Year Published 2016
Language English
Publisher BioOne
Publisher location Washington, D.C.
Contributing office(s) Coop Res Unit Leetown
Description 9 p.
First page 279
Last page 287
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
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