I began grad school at Arkansas State University a little less than a month ago. The project: studying the effects of bottomland hardwood forest harvest regimes on the reproductive success of understory species of concern. Primarily, Hooded-, Kentucky-, and Swainson's Warblers.
Historically, bottomland hardwood forests were the dominant cover type in the Mississippi Alluvial Valley (MAV). Today it's corn, rice, and soy.
Land managers have slowly started taking steps in the right direction by buying-up land and protecting it while implementing harvest regimes that not only aim to benefit the buyer, but also give back to the birds. But there is a paucity of information out there describing what happens after the trees fall.
I'll be focusing my efforts on evaluating the predator community, Brown-headed Cowbird (an obligate nest parasite) response, and overall avian abundance & density, as well as the reproductive success of three warblers of conservation concern in areas that have recently been harvested using currently accepted "ecologically-friendly" logging practices.
|Secondary Growth Bottomland Hardwood Forest|
"TH-C" stands for Trusten Holder Control. Trusten Holder is a wildlife management area located in Dumas, AR consisting of 10,000 acres of protected land owned by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, US Fish and Wildlife, and the US Corps of Engineers. I have three study plots in here, two of which have been harvested, and one control.
My other study blocks are located in the White River National Wildlife Refuge. The WRNWR consists of over 160,000 acres of protected wildlands. This may sound like a lot, but compared to the twenty-four million acres of bottomland hardwood forest that used to cover the MAV, it's laughable. Less than 4 million acres - or 16% - remain spread across Arkansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana, most of which is fragmented.
Our most important resources are disappearing quickly and intensive, responsible management is imperative. I'm hoping to shed a little more light on how current forest management practices are affecting our feathered friends. Stay tuned...
|It's hard to believe that an ancient forest replete with 100-ft-tall bald cypresses and 2-m-wide water tupelos stood here only a few hundred years ago|