Source: UNIVERSITY OF RHODE ISLAND submitted to
MANAGEMENT OF SOUTHERN NEW ENGLAND FORESTS FOR RUFFED GROUSE AND ASSOCIATED WILDLIFE
Sponsoring Institution
National Institute of Food and Agriculture
Project Status
TERMINATED
Funding Source
Reporting Frequency
Annual
Accession No.
0201320
Grant No.
(N/A)
Project No.
RI00MS973
Proposal No.
(N/A)
Multistate No.
(N/A)
Program Code
(N/A)
Project Start Date
Oct 1, 2004
Project End Date
Sep 30, 2008
Grant Year
(N/A)
Project Director
McWilliams, S. R.
Recipient Organization
UNIVERSITY OF RHODE ISLAND
19 WOODWARD HALL 9 EAST ALUMNI AVENUE
KINGSTON,RI 02881
Performing Department
NATURAL RESOURCE SCIENCES
Non Technical Summary
Conservation of early successional forest within the eastern United States is a primary contemporary management concern because today these forests and their associated wildlife are relatively rare and they require active management. The proposed research will evaluate the effectiveness of certain forest management practices for enhancing populations of grouse and other associated wildlife in southern New England.
Animal Health Component
75%
Research Effort Categories
Basic
25%
Applied
75%
Developmental
(N/A)
Classification

Knowledge Area (KA)Subject of Investigation (SOI)Field of Science (FOS)Percent
1230830107050%
1230850107050%
Goals / Objectives
GENERAL GOALS OF THE PROJECT: To examine the relationship between daily activity of grouse and habitat quality within forests of Rhode Island, and to compare the survival, home range size, and daily activity patterns of reintroduced and resident ruffed grouse in forest stands within Rhode Island that differ in their management history and type of management. Given these general goals, the specific objectives and hypotheses include: 1. determine the effects of forest type, management activities, stand age, and bird origin (resident or relocated) on habitat use, home range size, and survival of grouse in southern New England forests. 2. test hypothesis that grouse inhabiting areas with more dense cover and more abundant and better quality foods spend less time active per day, have smaller home ranges, and have higher survival. 3. test hypothesis that relocated and resident ruffed grouse have similar activity patterns and survival in a given habitat type. 4. establish the efficacy of relocating ruffed grouse to southern New England forests.
Project Methods
We propose to reintroduce grouse captured in Maine to selected study sites in Rhode Island where resident grouse are also monitored. This experimental approach allows us to assess how habitat quality and forest management practices affect home range and survival of grouse, and to establish the efficacy of relocating grouse to enhance grouse populations in RI. Prior to release into study sites in RI, all birds will be fitted with 11-12g necklace-type radio transmitters with a tip-switch for recording bird activity. Telemetry locations will be collected 2-3 times per week with hand-held radio receivers and three-element Yagi antennas. This radiolocation data will then be used to estimate home range and survival of grouse based on standard protocols used by other researchers. Radiolocations of grouse will then be overlayed on GIS base maps so that home ranges can be estimated. The mapped data will then be used to determine the effect of forest type and management activities on habitat use and home range size of grouse. Annual and seasonal home ranges will be calculated for each bird using adaptive kernel estimation and MCP methods. We will use multiple regression to test for effects of forest type, management activities, stand age, and bird origin (resident or relocated) on habitat use and home range size of grouse. The stated hypotheses will be tested at two spatial scales: (1) using two-way ANOVA, we will compare activity, home range size, and survival of reintroduced and resident grouse between xeric and mesic forests; (2) we will also determine how activity, home range size, and survival of grouse is related to certain habitat characteristics (i.e., plant cover, quality and quantity of available foods) within the birds home range. This will be the first study to attempt to relocate grouse from northern states into RI. As such, this study will allow us to assess whether the standard relocation protocols developed by other researchers, and adopted for this study, are suitable for relocating grouse to southern New England forests. Comparisons between daily activity, home range size, and survival of relocated and resident grouse will provide insights into whether the same habitat characteristics and forest types are best for relocated and resident grouse.

Progress 10/01/04 to 09/30/08

Outputs
OUTPUTS: This research project was initiated on 1 Oct. 2004 and so this report covers the last full year of the project. Conservation of early successional forest within the eastern United States is a primary contemporary management concern because today these forests and their associated wildlife species are relatively rare and they require active management. We focus on ruffed grouse in this research because (a) forest management that enhances ruffed grouse populations will also positively influence populations of many other wildlife species so in this sense grouse are an excellent "sentinel species" for early successional forests, (b) ruffed grouse are of particular conservation concern in southern New England because they are a native gamebird species that is currently too rare to sustain a hunting season, and (c) much recent research effort has focused on why populations of ruffed grouse in eastern forests have declined. The primary goal of the proposed research is to assess how habitat quality and forest management practices affect home range and survival of grouse in southern New England. Our results established how home range size of grouse in southern New England changes with general types of forests in this region. One MSc. Graduate student, Erik Blomberg, was hired during 2005 to work on this project. He successfully completed his MSc thesis in Dec 2007. He trapped grouse in state management areas in Rhode Island, fitted captured grouse with 11-12 g necklace-type radiotransmitters. Radiolocations of >25 grouse tracked over the past 8 years were used to develop a spatially explicit population viability model. Mr. Blomberg constructed a GIS-based ruffed grouse habitat suitability model using a partitioned Mahalanobis D2 modeling technique, which was then integrated with a population viability analysis (PVA) model. He used this spatially explicit PVA as a tool to evaluate alternative forest management plans designed to benefit ruffed grouse and associated forest wildlife. This project will provide a significant contribution to ruffed grouse conservation by guiding forest management decisions in Rhode Island. This work is also significant in that it represents the first integration of GIS-modeling and population viability analysis to benefit ruffed grouse and associated wildlife. Dissemination activities: August 2008 - Invited speaker at the symposium entitled "Body condition of birds" at the joint meeting of the American Ornithologist's Union, Cooper Ornithological Society, and Society of Canadian Ornithologists (Portland, Oregon) "Non-destructive techniques to assess body composition and condition" (S. McWilliams). September 2007 - Annual meeting of The Wildlife Society (Tuscon, Arizona) "A GIS-based model of ruffed grouse habitat distribution in Rhode Island." (Erik J. Blomberg, Scott R. McWilliams, Brian C. Tefft, Erik G. Endrulat). August 2004- Appalachian Cooperative Grouse Research Project Summary Workshop (Shepherdstown, WV) "Effects of forest management on ruffed grouse habitat selection and home range size in WV, VA, and RI, USA." (S. McWilliams, B. C. Tefft, E. G. Endrulat, and G. W. Norman) PARTICIPANTS: Individuals: Scott McWilliams, Principal Investigator; Erik Blomberg, MSc completed in December 2007; Amy Wynia, BSc completed in May 2007, Honor's thesis was related to this research project. Partner Organizations: Rhode Island Dept. Environmental Management. Training opportunities: This research involved the training of one Ph.D. student (Erik Blomberg) and one undergraduate Honors thesis student (Amy Wynia) in field biology skills, laboratory analysis skills, and computer-intensive analysis of data. In addition, 12 undergraduate students participated in this research during 2004-2007 and they were trained in various aspects of field biology. TARGET AUDIENCES: New insights obtained from this research affected the following constituencies: (a) regional, state, and local non-profit conservation organizations, government agencies, and advisory groups interested in coastal zone management (e.g., The Nature Conservancy, RI Dept. Environmental Management, Coastal Resources Management Council, U.S. National Park Service, U.S. National Wildlife Refuges), and (b) scientific colleagues in the U.S. and abroad who are interested in how habitat quality and forest management practices affect home range and survival of grouse in southern New England PROJECT MODIFICATIONS: Nothing significant to report during this reporting period.

Impacts
This research involved the training of one MSc student (Erik Blomberg) in field biology skills, laboratory analysis skills, and computer-intensive analysis of data. Mr. Blomberg successfully defended and completed his MSc thesis in December 2007. In addition, 12 undergraduate students participated in this research during 2004-2007 and they were trained in various aspects of field biology and data analysis. One URI Honor's Undergraduate thesis by Amy Wynia resulted from this work during 2007. Results from this research will provide information that will enhance our ability to effectively manage southern New England forests for ruffed grouse and associated wildlife. Given that forest management in the eastern U.S. involves mostly privately-owned forests, there is a great need for research on key wildlife species that demonstrates how best to manage forests on a relatively small scale so that certain portions of the forest are at an early successional stage. In addition, the information can be used to test current ecological hypotheses about habitat/bird associations in early successional forests.

Publications

  • Blomberg, E., S.R. McWilliams, B. Tefft, E. Endrulat. 2009. Predicting habitat distribution for ruffed grouse: a landscape-scale model based on presence-only data. JOURNAL OF WILDLIFE BIOLOGY, in press.
  • Karasov, W.H. and S. R. McWilliams. 2005. Digestive constraints in mammalian and avian ecology. Pp. 87-112, In: J.M. Starck and T. Wang (eds). Physiological and ecological adaptations to feeding in vertebrates. Science Publishers Inc., Enfield, New Hampshire.
  • Servello, F.A., E. C. Hellgren, and S. R. McWilliams. 2005. Techniques for wildlife nutritional ecology. Pp. 554-590, In C.E. Braun, ed. Techniques for Wildlife Investigations and Management. Sixth Edition. The Wildlife Society, Bethesda, Maryland


Progress 01/01/07 to 12/31/07

Outputs
OUTPUTS: This research project was initiated on 1 Oct. 2004 and so this report covers the third full year of the project. Conservation of early successional forest within the eastern United States is a primary contemporary management concern because today these forests and their associated wildlife species are relatively rare and they require active management. We focus on ruffed grouse in this research because (a) forest management that enhances ruffed grouse populations will also positively influence populations of many other wildlife species so in this sense grouse are an excellent "sentinel species" for early successional forests, (b) ruffed grouse are of particular conservation concern in southern New England because they are a native gamebird species that is currently too rare to sustain a hunting season, and (c) much recent research effort has focused on why populations of ruffed grouse in eastern forests have declined. The primary goal of the proposed research is to assess how habitat quality and forest management practices affect home range and survival of grouse in southern New England. Results from previous related CRIS-supported research were reported in publications during 2005 and 2006. These results established how home range size of grouse in southern New England changes with general types of forests in this region. One MSc. Graduate student, Erik Blomberg, was hired during 2005 to work on this project. Mr. Blomberg completed his final field season during fall 2006 and successfully completed his MSc thesis in Dec 2007. He trapped grouse in state management areas in Rhode Island, fitted captured grouse with 11-12 g necklace-type radiotransmitters. Radiolocations of >25 grouse tracked over the past 8 years are now being used to develop a spatially explicit population viability model. Mr. Blomberg constructed a GIS-based ruffed grouse habitat suitability model using a partitioned Mahalanobis D2 modeling technique, which was then integrated with a population viability analysis (PVA) model. He used this spatially explicit PVA as a tool to evaluate alternative forest management plans designed to benefit ruffed grouse and associated forest wildlife. He has already submitted one ms for publication (J. Wildlife Biol.) and is almost ready to submit the second ms from his thesis. This project will provide a significant contribution to ruffed grouse conservation by guiding forest management decisions in Rhode Island. This work is also significant in that it represents the first integration of GIS-modeling and population viability analysis to benefit ruffed grouse and associated wildlife. Dissemination activities: Erik J. Blomberg, Scott R. McWilliams, Brian C. Tefft, Erik G. Endrulat. 2007. A GIS-based model of ruffed grouse habitat distribution in Rhode Island. Presentation at the 14th annual meeting of The Wildlife Society, Tuscon, Arizona. PARTICIPANTS: Erik Blomberg, MSc completed in December 2007 Amy Wynia, BSc completed in May 2007; Honor's thesis was related to this research project. TARGET AUDIENCES: New insights obtained from this research affected the following constituencies: (a) regional, state, and local non-profit conservation organizations, government agencies, and advisory groups interested in coastal zone management (e.g., The Nature Conservancy, RI Dept. Environmental Management, Coastal Resources Management Council, U.S. National Park Service, U.S. National Wildlife Refuges), and (b) scientific colleagues in the U.S. and abroad who are interested in how habitat quality and forest management practices affect home range and survival of grouse in southern New England.

Impacts
This research involved the training of one MSc student (Erik Blomberg) in field biology skills, laboratory analysis skills, and computer-intensive analysis of data. Mr. Blomberg successfully defended and completed his MSc thesis in December 2007. In addition, three undergraduate students participated in this research during 2007 and they were trained in various aspects of field biology and data analysis. One URI Honor's Undergraduate thesis by Amy Wynia resulted from this work during 2007. Results from this research will provide information that will enhance our ability to effectively manage southern New England forests for ruffed grouse and associated wildlife. Given that forest management in the eastern U.S. involves mostly privately-owned forests, there is a great need for research on key wildlife species that demonstrates how best to manage forests on a relatively small scale so that certain portions of the forest are at an early successional stage. In addition, the information can be used to test current ecological hypotheses about habitat/bird associations in early successional forests.

Publications

  • Blomberg, E., S.R. McWilliams, B. Tefft, E. Endrulat. 2008. Predicting habitat distribution for ruffed grouse: a landscape-scale model based on presence-only data.JOURNAL OF WILDLIFE BIOLOGY, in review.


Progress 01/01/06 to 12/31/06

Outputs
This research project was initiated on 1 Oct. 2004 and so this report covers the second full year of the project. Conservation of early successional forest within the eastern United States is a primary contemporary management concern because today these forests and their associated wildlife species are relatively rare and they require active management. We focus on ruffed grouse in this research because (a) forest management that enhances ruffed grouse populations will also positively influence populations of many other wildlife species so in this sense grouse are an excellent "sentinel species" for early successional forests, (b) ruffed grouse are of particular conservation concern in southern New England because they are a native gamebird species that is currently too rare to sustain a hunting season, and (c) much recent research effort has focused on why populations of ruffed grouse in eastern forests have declined. The primary goal of the proposed research is to assess how habitat quality and forest management practices affect home range and survival of grouse in southern New England. Results from previous related CRIS-supported research were reported in publications during 2005 with no new publications during 2006. These results established how home range size of grouse in southern New England changes with general types of forests in this region. One MSc. Graduate student, Erik Blomberg, was hired during 2005 to work on this project. Mr. Blomberg completed his final field season during fall 2006. He trapped grouse in state management areas in Rhode Island, fitted captured grouse with 11-12 g necklace-type radiotransmitters. Radiolocations of >25 grouse tracked over the past 8 years are now being used to develop a spatially explicit population viability model. Mr. Blomberg is currently constructing a GIS-based ruffed grouse habitat suitability model using a partitioned Mahalanobis D2 modeling technique, which will then be integrated with a population viability analysis (PVA) model. He will then use this spatially explicit PVA as a tool to evaluate alternative forest management plans designed to benefit ruffed grouse and associated forest wildlife. This project will provide a significant contribution to ruffed grouse conservation by guiding forest management decisions in Rhode Island. This work is also significant in that it represents the first integration of GIS-modeling and population viability analysis to benefit ruffed grouse and associated wildlife.

Impacts
Results from this research will provide information that will enhance our ability to effectively manage southern New England forests for ruffed grouse and associated wildlife. Given that forest management in the eastern U.S. involves mostly privately-owned forests, there is a great need for research on key wildlife species that demonstrates how best to manage forests on a relatively small scale so that certain portions of the forest are at an early successional stage. In addition, the information can be used to test current ecological hypotheses about habitat/bird associations in early successional forests.

Publications

  • No publications reported this period


Progress 01/01/05 to 12/31/05

Outputs
This research project was initiated on 1 Oct. 2004 and so this report covers the first full year of the project. Conservation of early successional forest within the eastern United States is a primary contemporary management concern because today these forests and their associated wildlife species are relatively rare and they require active management. We focus on ruffed grouse in this research because (a) forest management that enhances ruffed grouse populations will also positively influence populations of many other wildlife species so in this sense grouse are an excellent "sentinel species" for early successional forests, (b) ruffed grouse are of particular conservation concern in southern New England because they are a native gamebird species that is currently too rare to sustain a hunting season, and (c) much recent research effort has focused on why populations of ruffed grouse in eastern forests have declined. The primary goal of the proposed research is to assess how habitat quality and forest management practices affect home range and survival of grouse in southern New England. Results from previous related CRIS-supported research were reported in publications during 2005 (see list below). These results establish how home range size of grouse in southern New England changes with general types of forests in this region. One MSc. Graduate student, Erik Bloomberg, was hired during 2005 to work on this project. Mr. Bloomberg completed his first field season during fall 2005. He trapped grouse in state management areas in Rhode Island, fitted captured grouse with 11-12 g necklace-type radiotransmitters. He is now tracking the grouse and recording their locations and movements. He will use this information to estimate home range and survival of grouse. We are also developing a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) map containing data on forest types, management activities, roads, and natural features (lakes, streams, etc.) for the study site. Types of management activities include: silvicultural treatments (e.g. clearcut, shelterwood, and deferment), areas mowed to maintain road edges or open fields, prescribed burns, and openings created for wildlife. Radiolocations of grouse are overlayed on these base maps and their home ranges estimated. The mapped data will then be used to determine the effect of forest type and management activities on habitat use and home range size of grouse.

Impacts
Results from this research will provide information that will enhance our ability to effectively manage southern New England forests for ruffed grouse and associated wildlife. Given that forest management in the eastern U.S. involves mostly privately-owned forests, there is a great need for research on key wildlife species that demonstrates how best to manage forests on a relatively small scale so that certain portions of the forest are at an early successional stage. In addition, the information can be used to test current ecological hypotheses about habitat/bird associations in early successional forests.

Publications

  • Endrulat, E.G., S.R. McWilliams, and B.C. Tefft. 2005. Habitat selection and home range size of ruffed grouse in Rhode Island. Northeastern Naturalist 12:411-424.


Progress 10/01/04 to 12/31/04

Outputs
This research project was initiated on 1 Oct. 2004 and so this report covers the first two months of the project. The primary goal of the proposed research is to assess how habitat quality and forest management practices affect home range and survival of grouse in southern New England, and to establish the efficacy of relocating grouse to enhance grouse populations in RI. One MSc. graduate student, Kevin Lloyd, was hired during 2004 to work on this project. Mr. Lloyd completed his first field season during fall 2004. He relocated 25 grouse from southern Maine to certain habitats in Rhode Island. All relocated grouse were fitted with 11-12g necklace-type radio transmitters so their locations could be tracked using radiotelemetry. We are currently analyzing the locations, survival, and movement patterns of these grouse. Depending on the results from this first field season, we will either continue the relocation effort or use extant grouse in Rhode Island to achieve the stated goals of the project.

Impacts
Results from this research will provide information that will enhance our ability to effectively manage southern New England forests for ruffed grouse and associated wildlife. In addition, the information can be used to test current ecological hypotheses about habitat/bird associations in early successional forests.

Publications

  • No publications reported this period