Date of Award

12-2015

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Biology

First Advisor

Jeffery L. Larkin, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Joseph E. Duchamp, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Michael C. Tyree, Ph.D.

Abstract

The Golden-winged Warbler (Vermivora chrysoptera) is an imperiled songbird that breeds in early-successional plant communities of eastern North America. Conservation efforts on the breeding grounds have become a priority because population declines are understood to be driven chiefly by the loss/degradation of breeding habitat. Although the species is known to use a variety of upland and wetland habitat types, most previous research on the species has been conducted solely in uplands. I studied Golden-winged Warbler use and habitat characteristics in the Poconos region of Pennsylvania. Density estimates suggest that both timber harvests and wetlands support similar densities of Golden-winged Warblers. Microhabitat occupancy models revealed that those wetlands I surveyed with high densities of 1-2 m tall shrubs (>2x as many shrubs) supported fewer Golden-winged Warblers whereas wetlands with more saplings (>2x as many saplings) and sedge cover (~1.3x as many sedge observations) supported more warblers. Finally, I found that macro-scale habitat variables that I quantified did not predict species occupancy of wetlands, likely due to the homogeneous nature of the study area. My study suggests that both wetlands and timber harvests have similar capacity to support Golden-winged Warblers. Further, wetlands in the Poconos should be evaluated at the microhabitat-scale for vegetative attributes that meet Golden-winged Warbler habitat requirements, rather than at the macro-habitat scale.

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