The Effects of Habitat Management on Wildlife Use in a Managed Loblolly Pine Forest
McCollum, Johannah Reed
AdvisorStreet, Garrett M.
Rush, Scott A.
To improve habitat quality for wildlife, habitat managers prescribe various disturbances. Habitat management techniques alter the vegetation structure, composition, and quality, changing food and cover resources and availability. To investigate how habitat management and vegetation heterogeneity affect space use by wildlife species, I deployed 81 camera-traps and collected fine scale vegetation data across a variety of treatments (i.e., canopy reduction, prescribed fire, and herbicide application) in a managed loblolly pine forest. I created a new method for accounting for imperfect detection and error in camera count data. My method provided better inference about the effects of variables on animal use. Species responded differently to different functional groups of plants, but predicted use from generalized additive models showed higher use in the most intensively managed pine stands, indicating that management promotes animal use by improving habitat quality. Animals used every treatment, indicating the need for heterogeneity in resources when managing wildlife.