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Monday, January 29 • 4:40pm - 5:00pm
TOOLS & TECHNOLOGY: WILDLIFE HABITAT: Response of Early Successional Avifauna to Pipeline Right-of-way Vegetation Management in Eastern Ohio

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AUTHORS. Lewis Lolya, Gabriel Karns, Stephen Matthews - The Ohio State University

ABSTRACT. Early successional bird species have exhibited population declines across Ohio, coinciding with a state-wide loss in young forest and shrub-scrub habitats. Additionally, forest fragmentation and land use conversion has increased with accelerating shale gas development. Pipeline right-of-ways (ROWs), which represent the largest proportion of the shale gas footprint, hold potential for early successional habitat management. This potential has been demonstrated for analogous electric ROWs, but minimal research is available for corridors with underground infrastructure. Our goals are to assess early successional avian response to forest edge-cutback techniques along pipeline ROWs and to understand avian utilization of the pipeline-forest interface. Forest-edge plots (control=11, experimental=12) were established at 10 sites across four counties in Eastern Ohio. Avian point counts, nesting surveys, and vegetation sampling were conducted within each plot. A total of 32 nests of 12 species were monitored. The proportion of failed to fledged nests was 53%, with EATO showing low nest success across sites (Fail=83%). Overall incidence of nest parasitism was higher in edge treatment ROWs (n=8) than in control (n=3). 69 total species were observed across all sites during point counts. Several species showed increased occurrence in ROW plots compared to forest plots ([alpha codes] BHCO, COYE, EATO, FISP, INBU, and NOCA) while others were more prevalent in interior forest (ACFL, OVEN, and REVI). SCTA, EAWP, and ACFL were more prevalent in experimental ROW plots than control. The opposite trend was seen for INBU, potentially due to limited forest regrowth following recent treatments. These preliminary results may demonstrate that birds exhibit species-specific selectivity for habitat structure characteristics along pipeline corridors. Although pipeline edges may provide nesting habitat, high occurrence of nest parasitism may indicate the presence of a habitat trap. Furthermore, as experimental cutback zones regrow, we hypothesize increased use over time of those edges by shrub-scrub dependent birds.

Monday January 29, 2018 4:40pm - 5:00pm

Attendees (1)