We attempted to validate the recently published Habitat Suitability Index (HSI) model for the Swainson's Warbler using data collected between 2005 and 2010 at Big Island (BI), White River National Wildlife Refuge (WRNWR), and Saint Francis National Forest (SFNF). The Swainson's Warbler HSI was tested in two ways; by comparing unoccupied and occupied location HSI scores and by comparing forest stand HSI scores to abundance estimates of Swainson's Warblers in each stand. We found HSI scores were significantly lower ( P = 0.006) for sites occupied by Swainson's Warblers (mean = 0.66) than those that were unoccupied (mean = 0.77) at WRNWR and BI, Arkansas. Also, we found that Swainson's Warbler abundances were not correlated with HSI scores at SFNF (r2 =0.06, F1,17 =1.23, P = 0.28) and were negatively correlated with HSI scores at WRNWR (r2=0.35, F1,6= 3.27, P = 0.12). Our test of the Swainson's Warbler HSI indicated that the model performed poorly at three study sites in Arkansas. Also, during the 2008, 2009, and 2010 breeding seasons, we studied the effects of a catastrophic flood on habitat quality and demography of Swainson's Warblers (Limnothylpis swainsonii) at a flooded site, WRNWR, and a dry site, SFNF. We surveyed all previously-occupied territories and other potential habitat at both sites. At WRNWR, we collected habitat and arthropod data at 21 randomly selected paired occupied and unoccupied territories to determine what impact flooding had on Swainson's Warbler occupancy relative to habitat variables. In 2008, only 21 (50%) territories were occupied and only 19 (45%) were occupied in 2009. Occupancy changes were primarily associated with variation in bareground cover, cane stem density, and Araneae abundance between preflood and flood periods. Additionally, to determine what impact flooding had on habitat quality for this species, we evaluated how body condition and survival differed between locations and the preflood (2004–2007) and postflood (2008–2010) periods. In the postflood period, body condition did not differ between locations and was improved at both locations suggesting the flood did not adversely affect body condition of male Swainson's Warblers. However, apparent survival of Swainson's Warblers in the postflood period was lower at both locations, which seemed to be a result of reduced habitat quality due to the flooding at WRNWR.
|Advisor:||Bednarz, James C.|
|Commitee:||Benson, Thomas J., Bouldin, Jennifer, McKay, Tanja|
|School:||Arkansas State University|
|School Location:||United States -- Arkansas|
|Source:||MAI 50/05M, Masters Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Wildlife Conservation, Wildlife Management, Conservation|
|Keywords:||Body condition, Flood, Hsi, Natural disturbance, Survival, Swainson's warbler|
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