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Tuesday, February 7 • 6:00pm - 9:00pm
Student Research-in-Progress Poster Display. Home range size, movements, and survival rates of sora and Virginia rails in a managed marsh complex in northwestern Ohio

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AUTHOR: James Hansen, The Ohio State University
ABSTRACT: Home range size and survival are not well known for species of secretive marshbirds. Sora and Virginia rails are of particular interest in Ohio because of their status as game birds with relatively liberal harvest regulations. There are no estimates of abundance for sora and Virginia rails in Ohio, and knowledge of home range size and survival is lacking. We equipped 34 sora and 64 Virginia rails with radio-transmitters from May-August 2016. Rails were tracked from the date of capture until they died or departed from the study site. Seventy-three of 98 rails (44 Virginia rail and 29 sora) departed the study area while marsh units were being flooded and drawn down. The mean number of days from initial capture to departure was 9.8 (SD = 8.6). We tracked 28 Sora and 58 Virginia rails over 449 and 1256 exposure days, respectively. Three radio-marked Virginia rails and one sora were found dead, resulting in an approximate daily survival rate of 99.8% for both species. Minimum convex polygons were generated for birds with 15-47 locations. Mean home range size was 1.92 ha (1.78-2.1) for sora and 3.5 ha (0.78-12.6) for Virginia rail. Although mortality was relatively low, small home range sizes suggest rails did not move in response to changing water levels, suggesting that small-scale changes in habitat conditions, such as declining water levels may have caused rails to depart the study site. Some of the departing birds may have been migrants that did not establish home ranges. Rails departed during the first, second, and third National marshbird survey window, revealing that the population was not closed, which creates problems for estimating abundance. Work during the next two breeding seasons will lend greater understanding of population dynamics and habitat management of Sora and Virginia rails in this managed coastal marsh system.

Tuesday February 7, 2017 6:00pm - 9:00pm CST
Olive Branch Room

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