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Invasive bermudagrass reduces habitat quality for bobwhites

Cara J

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Anecdotal evidence of invasive bermudagrass (Cynodon dactylon) being associated with declining populations of northern bobwhites (Colinus virginianus) has been widely circulated. But researchers at the University of Georgia wanted to test why the grass might be bad for the species. “The two main research questions were how bermudagrass affects mobility — their ability to move around and forage—and how it might affect microclimate,” said James Martin, an assistant professor of wildlife ecology and management at the University of Georgia and member of The Wildlife Society. Martin, the lead author of the study published in the Wildlife Society Bulletin, worked with graduate student Jason Burkhart’s thesis data to test these hypotheses. The researchers let five-day and 10-day old, human-imprinted chicks forage in simulated areas with different densities of bermudagrass. They found that bermudagrass reduced movement for five-day-old chicks, but not the 10-day- old cohort. “At 10 days, they were able to overcome this issue,” Martin said. As for temperature, Martin and his coauthors compared average daily maximum temperature readings in areas dominated by bermudagrass and native forb-dominated areas. Using a published model that predicts how much thermal stress a bobwhite can take, Martin and his coauthors predicted how long a quail could [...]


Read more: http://wildlife.org/invasive-bermudagrass-reduces-habitat-quality-for-bobwhites/

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