Date of Award

Summer 8-11-2018

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science - Environmental Sciences

Department

Environmental Science

First Advisor

Christopher Comer

Second Advisor

Brian Oswald

Third Advisor

Christopher Schalk

Abstract

Oak savannas were once an abundant vegetation type in the Midwestern United States that have now declined to <1% of their original distribution. Historically, natural disturbances such as periodic fire and grazing maintained oak savannas, but these have been reduced or eliminated, resulting in woody encroachment and subsequent habitat loss and degradation. In 2009-10, a baseline, pre-restoration study was completed to determine vegetation characteristics, breeding bird abundances, nest success, and nest site selection at the Gus Engeling Wildlife Management Area (GEWMA) in eastern Texas. The results showed a lack of savanna vegetation structure on degraded sites and few savanna or grassland obligate bird species. The goal of this study was to determine how breeding birds of oak savanna vegetation types in eastern Texas respond to restoration effects 7 years after initial management. Post-restoration surveys completed in 2016-17 showed a change in avian assemblages from a more woodland dominated community to grassland/savanna community. The presence and breeding of savanna obligate species dickcissel (Spiza americana) and lark sparrow (Chondestes grammacus) indicates that the restoration was successful. The presence of savanna species can be linked to the herbaceous vegetation that was restored to more closely resemble historic oak savanna structure and can quantify the success of restoration efforts.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Available for download on Wednesday, August 14, 2019

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