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Wednesday, April 11 • 3:30pm - 3:45pm
WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT: Investigating the Effects of Land Managment Practices on Wildlife Diversity and Abundance Through Landscape Manipulation

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AUTHORS: Greg Gustafson*, Dr. Karen Root – Bowling Green State University

ABSTRACT: Oak savanna and its associated species in the Midwest United States are being depleted and degraded. Oak savanna, a globally rare ecosystem, is dwindling because of hardwood encroachment, agricultural conversion and fire suppression. Disturbance is critical in an oak savanna ecosystem to maintain proper habitat structures for native species. Land management practices like herbicide applications, mechanical vegetation removal, and prescribed fire are all utilized to restore and maintain these early successional and native habitats in Northwest Ohio by subduing tree encroachment. Land management plays a key role in altering the structure of the landscape and subsequently the abundance and diversity of the wildlife in those areas. To examine these relationships we surveyed 15 savannas in two parks in Lucas County, Northwest Ohio. Point counts were conducted to observe avian and mammalian species day and night, May to October. We also used camera traps to assess larger wildlife within sites. Management data, provided by land managers, was aggregated per site via GIS and compared to diversity and abundance measures. Our analysis, using a pairwise correlation test, found that increasing management instances per site yielded a significantly higher avian abundance per site (p=0.0417). We also found, using non-parametric Spearman's test, that sites with more instances of prescribed fires had a greater abundance of snags (p=0.025). These snags provide a critical resource for many wildlife species including Red-headed woodpeckers, which were significantly and positively related to snag density (Non-parametric Spearman's test, p=0.0475). GIS analysis yielded a relationship between percent savanna within 500 meters around each site and White-tailed Deer abundance followed by a pairwise correlation test (p=0.0432). At large scales landscape features appear to affect the abundance of larger vertebrates in these oak savanna habitats. Adaptive management practices are critical to sustaining the landscape structure of these globally rare oak savanna ecosystems.

Wednesday April 11, 2018 3:30pm - 3:45pm CDT
LaSalle 1 (7th Floor)