Telemetry/Dispersal Study

In collaboration with Drs. Aaron Moody (UNC- Chapel Hill) and Bill Morris (Duke University), SEI Board members Drs. Jeffrey Walters and Nick Haddad were principal investigators for a research project that assessed various conservation and land acquisition strategies designed to benefit species that are of management concern to the Department of Defense (DoD). Movement data for several listed species were collected within, and adjacent to, the Fort Bragg Military Installation. Field data were integrated with movement, habitat and landscape models in a spatially explicit analysis framework. This spatially explicit decision support system could then be applied to other military properties where balance is sought amongst species at-risk, mission compatibility, and neighboring off-post development.

Red-cockaded woodpeckers (RCW) were a primary focal species.  Juvenile female RCWs that had remained with their natal family group through their first winter were targeted for study.  Birds were recaptured from roost cavities and affixed with a tail-mounted radio transmitter.  Transmitters were cast off with the rectrices (tail feathers) during subsequent autumn molt. Eighteen juvenile female from western Fort Bragg (WFB) were tracked during late winter/spring 2006 and 15 were tracked from Overhills (OHL) and the North East Area (NEA) in 2007. Status of these females during subsequent nesting seasons was recorded through re-sight and color-band observations if they were detected.

RCW movement data between OHL and NEA were of particular interest due to extensive development (non-habitat) between these blocks; in contrast WFB is forested with relatively contiguous pine habitat. Dispersal behavior (e.g., habitat use and distance moved) was incorporated into the spatially explicit analysis framework to direct optimum conservation and management approaches with regard to RCW and other listed taxa.