Association between American Woodcock Seasonal Productivity and Landscape Composition and Configuration in Minnesota

  • Gunnar R. Kramer Minnesota Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Department of Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology
  • Kyle O. Daly Minnesota Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Department of Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology
  • Henry M. Streby Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Toledo
  • David E. Andersen U.S. Geological Survey, Minnesota Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit

Abstract

The effects of landscape composition and configuration on productivity of most bird species, including American woodcock (Scolopax minor), are largely unknown. Understanding landscape components and cover-type configurations associated with productivity can be useful in developing more effective management strategies that increase recruitment. We used data on nest and juvenile survival rates of American woodcock from northern Minnesota from 2011 and 2012 to inform logistic exposure models of survival and predict productivity through the period when juveniles are capable of sustained flight (~15 days post-hatch). We used those models to link landscape features with nest survival rate and juvenile survival rate, predict spatially explicit productivity across our study area, and identify areas of high productivity within our study landscape. Lastly, we used simulations to explore the consequences of potential management actions aimed at improving productivity and the effects of long-term succession of young-forest cover types. We found that associations between land-cover composition and different components of productivity (i.e., nest and juvenile survival rates) were scale-specific. Generally, our models suggested stand-level composition (i.e., the amount of each cover type within 250–500 m of the nest) influenced nest survival rate, with mature forest having a small but mostly positive association with nest survival rate in most landscape contexts. Conversely, our models predicted lower nest survival rates in landscapes with greater amounts of grassland and upland shrubland. The amounts of wetland shrubland and upland shrubland at stand- (i.e., 250–500 m) and landscape-level (i.e., 1,000 m) scales were positively associated with juvenile survival rate. Our findings demonstrate that the effects of management actions depend on the context and configuration of cover types within the surrounding landscape and that spatially explicit models of productivity may be useful for informing management strategies. Furthermore, our results suggest that relationships between survival and specific land-cover types may change throughout the reproductive cycle in American woodcock.

Published
2019-12-02