Date of Graduation

12-2016

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Biology (MS)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Biological Sciences

Advisor

David Krementz

Committee Member

Kusum Naithani

Second Committee Member

Jason Tullis

Keywords

Biological Sciences; American woodcock; Migratory connectivity; Scolopax minor

Abstract

Improving the understanding of American woodcock (Scolopax minor) migration ecology has been identified as a priority information need for woodcock management. Developments in remote tracking technology and analytical techniques present an opportunity to gain insight into woodcock migratory connectivity and migration phenology and to evaluate the degree in which the current two-region (Eastern and Central) basis for woodcock management represents migratory movements. To analyze woodcock migration using band return records, I excluded observations that took place during the migratory period. Using this dataset, 17.9% of records showed crossover between management regions, higher than the < 5% crossover found in studies including non-migratory band returns. During autumn migration, woodcock from the Central Region largely migrated to destinations within the Central Region, whereas woodcock from the Eastern Region migrated to destinations across their wintering range, mixing with individuals from the Central Region. Between 2013 and 2016, I deployed 75 satellite transmitters on woodcock. I tracked the migration paths of 61 woodcock and documented 88 woodcock migrations. Average migration duration was longer during spring migration (53 days) than during autumn migration (31 days) because woodcock made a higher number of close-together migratory stopovers, not because woodcock stayed at individual stopovers longer during spring migration. Woodcock captured in the Central Management Region used 2 primary migrations routes: a Western Route and a Central Route. The Western Route ran north-south, connecting the breeding and wintering grounds of the Central Management Region. The hourglass-shaped Central Route connected an area on the wintering grounds reaching from Texas to Florida, to sites throughout northeastern North America. Woodcock following the Central Route funneled between the Appalachian Mountains and the Mississippi Alluvial Valley in western Tennessee during both autumn and spring migration. A higher than anticipated percentage (36%, n = 12) of marked woodcock captured in Texas and Louisiana and monitored during spring migration migrated to breeding-period sites in the Eastern Management Region, raising questions about the biological basis of managing woodcock as separate populations. The supplementary material includes woodcock capture information (Appendix I), information on individual stopovers (Appendix II), and migration maps for individual woodcock (Appendix III).

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