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National Quail Symposium Proceedings

Abstract

Northern bobwhite (Colinus virginianus) populations have declined because of habitat loss and fragmentation. Field borders provide additional habitat for northern bobwhites and other wildlife that depend on early-succession habitat. However, their proximity to woods as well as other edge types may result in increased bobwhite nest depredation. We examined if northern bobwhite nest survival in field borders decreased with increasing proximity to edges such as woods, crop fields, ditches, and roads; effects of year, camera presence, and field border width also were considered. We examined if snakes are the primary nest predator with 24-hr video camera surveillance. We searched for and monitored northern bobwhite nests on ~ 77 ha of field borders in southeast North Carolina during summers 2010 and 2011. We found 26 nests and monitored them every 3–4 days. Fourteen nests were monitored with cameras. We built nest survival models using the covariates of distance to nearest woody edge, crop field, ditch, and road as well as year, camera effect, and field border width. The most explanatory model was constant northern bobwhite nest survival with an estimated daily nest survival 6 SE of 0.9512 6 0.0119 (AICc weight 1⁄4 0.23). Models with covariates suggested similar daily nest survival rates. Four snake and two mammalian predation events were recorded on camera. Distance to edge types and field border width did not appear to influence the outcome of nests in an agriculture-dominated landscape. Thus, landowners and managers in an agriculture-dominated landscape may have flexibility with field border placement and distance to edge type as they relate to nest success.

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