Recreational activities have been shown repeatedly to have negative effects on wildlife. Appropriate management to minimize the effects of such activities, especially to species of conservation concern, is therefore a goal of utmost importance. This study characterized the visual ecology and anti-predator behaviors of the California Towhee, Melazone crissalis, in the context of parameterizing models for estimating the size and shape of wildlife buffer areas. Contrary to expectation, explicitly incorporating species-specific data on the towhee's visual system and individual-level data on physiological condition and life history traits did not significantly alter estimated buffer area requirements relative to models based solely on behavior. Similarly, towhees exhibited no differences in average alert or flight initiation distances with respect to direct versus tangential approaches. In contrast, data collected across a variety of habitat types in the field suggest that minimum approaching distances for the birds were highly dependent upon local vegetation parameters that included percent cover, density, and height. In general, more vegetative cover was associated with smaller alert and flight initiation distances. Together, these results suggest that a simple management solution (e.g., calculating buffer areas based on mean alert distance alone) may be adequate for this species, but that local habitat conditions will need to be taken into consideration for optimal management solutions.
|Advisor:||Allen, Bengt J.|
|Commitee:||Fernandez-Juricic, Esteban, Sinchak, Kevin|
|School:||California State University, Long Beach|
|School Location:||United States -- California|
|Source:||MAI 54/05M(E), Masters Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Wildlife Management, Ecology, Zoology, Recreation|
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