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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Investigating the influence of density-dependent and density-independent factors on Northern Bobwhite population processes
by McConnell, Mark Dewitt, Ph.D., Mississippi State University, 2016, 122; 10100347
Abstract (Summary)

Understanding regulation of wild animal populations is important in ecological investigations and applied wildlife management. Progress in understanding regulatory processes has been hindered by a long-running debate over the role of density-dependent and density-independent variables in population regulation. Population regulation of exploited species is of particular interest because harvest theory is predicated on assumptions of density-dependent feedback. However, for many exploited species, the functional relationships and mechanisms of population regulation via density dependence are not quantified (e.g., Northern bobwhite (Colinus virginianus). Compounding this task is the lack of a mechanistic understanding of the influence of density-independent factors in population regulation. The overall goal of this dissertation is to investigate the roles of density-dependent and density-independent processes in bobwhite populations. Bobwhites are an excellent species to investigate the role and influence of density-dependent and density-independent factors due to their unique life history, wherein they can exhibit density dependence in survival, reproduction, or both. I provide support for the concomitant influence of density-dependent and density-independent processes operating to regulate bobwhite populations. My results support the importance of food and cover and the additive influence of density-dependent and density-independent factors on bobwhite annual survival. I also report evidence for the differential effects of covariates on survival phases. My results represent the first evidence of support for the Tub and Tap hypotheses on bobwhite survival. I also quantify a density-dependent effect on bobwhite recruitment. Collectively, these results provide new evidence for understanding the role of internal and external factors in bobwhite populations.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Burger, L. Wes
Commitee: Leopold, Bruce D., Martin, James A., Palmer, William E., Wang, Guiming
School: Mississippi State University
Department: Wildlife and Fisheries
School Location: United States -- Mississippi
Source: DAI-B 77/09(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Wildlife Conservation, Wildlife Management, Ecology
Keywords: Density dependence, Density independence, Ecology, Northern bobwhite, Population dynamics, Weather
Publication Number: 10100347
ISBN: 978-1-339-64262-8
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