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2004 FALL SYMPOSIUM

Saturday, October 9

1:30 PM - BANDING NORTHERN SAW-WHET OWLS IN EASTERN TENNESSEE.
JIM GIACOMO (JGIOCOMO@aol.com), University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

Northern Saw-whet Owl (Aegolius acadicus) populations are difficult to monitor during the non-breeding season not only because they are nocturnal, but also because they are secretive and generally quiet relative to other owl species. Recent banding efforts across the eastern US have shown that this shy owl is easily captured during fall migration. In 2002 and 2003, we established a banding station near Maryville, Tennessee to determine the feasibility of monitoring Saw-whet Owls during migration and winter in eastern Tennessee. During our first year, we ran the station intermittently in the evening from dusk to between 0100 - 0300 EST for a total of 45 hours from 27 October through 15 December 2002 and 40 hours from 16 March through 30 March 2003. We caught two females, the first 22 Nov 2002 and the second 16 March 2003. In our second season, we banded 27 Northern Saw-whet Owls between 15 November 2003 and 20 January 2004 during a total of 200 hours of effort. Northern Saw-whet Owls are generally considered uncommon to rare in the Southeast, but our present study indicates these small owls may be more common than previously thought. Extrapolating both our current work and historical records from the Southeast, we believe there is tremendous potential to increase our understanding of the ecology of these tiny owls. Following set protocols, like those of Project Owlnet, provides excellent opportunities for both the collection of scientific data and education.

1:50 PM - TIMBER HARVEST TO IMPROVE HARDWOOD FOREST HABITAT FOR SONGBIRDS ON TENNESSEE NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE: EFFECTS ON AVIAN POPULATION DENSITIES AND NEST SURVIVAL RATES.
BENJAMIN S. THATCHER (thatcher@utk.edu ) and DAVID A. BUEHLER, Department of Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries, University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

Tennessee National Wildlife Refuge has managed its hardwood forests with experimental selection cutting in an attempt to increase nesting and foraging substrate for mature forest songbirds. We present the results from an ongoing study designed to experimentally test the effects of this management on the avian community. We measured habitat characteristics and collected daily nest survival, Brown-headed Cowbird brood parasitism, and population density data within twelve 20-ha research units, both prior to and following forest management. Kentucky Warbler and Indigo Bunting densities increased significantly (>10x) in harvest vs. reference units 2 years post-treatment. Wood Thrush densities and nest survival rates decreased in the harvest units following treatment. In the short-term, proactive forest management appears to increase avian community diversity but may have mixed effects on breeding mature forest songbirds. Results from this study will be used to make recommendations for adaptive management.

2:10 PM - DO EPHEMERAL PONDS PROVIDE HABITAT FOR BIRDS?
BRETT R. SCHEFFERS (schefbr0@sewanee.edu), J. BERT C. HARRIS, and David G. HASKELL, The University of the South, Sewanee, TN.

Seasonally flooded pools known as ephemeral or vernal ponds provide important habitat for amphibians and plants, but their role in avian ecology has been little studied. We tested the hypotheses that ephemeral ponds have greater avian richness and abundance than the surrounding upland forest on the Cumberland Plateau in Tennessee. Using a paired sample design, population surveys of the avian community were conducted in the winter and spring of 2004 at vernal pools and adjacent upland forest locations. The number of individuals within the avian community at the ephemeral ponds was significantly greater than that of adjacent upland control sites. In addition, the richness of the avian community at ephemeral ponds was significantly greater than the adjacent forest. These data suggest that in addition to the well-documented benefits they provide for other plant and animal communities, ephemeral ponds provide habitat for birds. The findings of this study also have implications for the conservation and management of these ecologically diverse wetlands.

2:30 PM - TENNESSEE WILDLIFE HERITAGE TRUST
FRED J. ALSOP III (alsopf@etsu.edu), Tennessee Wildlife Heritage Trust, and CLARENCE COFFEY, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency

The Tennessee Wildlife Heritage Trust, formed in 2003 by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Foundation, is a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting the conservation, protection and restoration of Tennessee's non-game wildlife species and their habitats. The organization is assisting and providing funding to the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. Many new opportunities to secure funding for Tennessee's non-game species, representing 97% of Tennessee's fauna, exist today that were not available in the past. Fund-raising events, auctions, wildlife diversity field day celebrations, corporate and individual contributors, volunteers and sales of the new "Watchable Wildlife" collectible stamp, which will feature a different species each year, are providing new sources of funding for Tennessee's non-game species.

2:45 PM - BREAK

3:00 PM - FORAGE TREE SELECTION AND ENERGY DEMANDS OF WINTERING YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKERS.
H. DAWN WILKINS (hwilkins@utm.edu), Department of Biological Sciences, University of Tennessee at Martin, Martin, TN

A number of organisms, including Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers (Sphyrapicus varius), use plant sap, gum, and nectar as a source of nourishment. The factors used to choose individual plants and avoid others are relatively unknown. I compared the sugar concentration, water content, bark thickness, phloem thickness, and orientation of sap wells on forage trees to trees of the same species and diameter and found no differences in these characteristics between trees used by sapsuckers and those that were not. I manipulated the sugar concentration of experimental trees through girdling to see if selection was affected. Girdled trees had higher sugar concentrations and more sap wells excavated above the girdle than below. Sapsuckers may be choosing forage trees at random or based on other characteristics such as bark complexity and tree health. In addition, I examined the possibility of sapsuckers using the phloem tissue to fulfill their energetic demands during the winter when there is little sugar movement in the trees. Based on my calculations, it is unlikely that sapsuckers are meeting their daily energetic needs from consuming sap. My evidence suggests sapsuckers consume phloem tissue and that it is broken down as it passes through the birds' digestive system. I hypothesize that symbionts allow sapsuckers to digest the cellulose in the phloem tissue. Their total energy intake is probably a mixture of sap, phloem tissue, fruits, and insects.

3:20 PM - WHAT IS TWRA DOING FOR BIRDS? and TENNESSEE'S STATE WILDLIFE GRANTS - COMPREHENSIVE WILDLIFE CONSERVATION STRATEGY PLANNING EFFORT.
MICHAEL ROEDEL (michael.roedel@state.tn.us), Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, Nashville

In March of this year I moved into the position of State Ornithologist with TWRA. In the months since, I've been catching up on existing projects as well as working on new issues. My primary focus for the past decade has been on the monitoring and inventory of birds. I hope to continue that monitoring focus with a goal of providing better information to land managers towards habitat management that benefits birds. Long-term planning for conservation of habitats, increasing public awareness about birds, promoting and participating in cooperative efforts that protect non-game birds are all part of my long-range plans in this position.

 

 

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