Semester of Graduation

Spring 2018


Master of Science (MS)


Renewable Natural Resources

Document Type



The American Woodcock (Scolopax minor) is a migratory upland game species occurring across much of eastern North America. Across its breeding range in the northern U.S. and southern Canada, this species has experienced significant, pervasive declines over the last half century. As woodcock populations continue to decline, active habitat management for this species has become increasingly important.

The state of Louisiana has substantial amounts of woodcock habitat and receives wintering birds from across the woodcock range. However, few data exist regarding survival rates, habitat utilization, and movement patterns across the state.

In order to better manage for woodcock habitat in Louisiana, fine scale data on woodcock habitat utilization and spatiotemporal movement patterns are needed. Past studies on woodcock habitat selection have relied predominantly on VHF telemetry, which require an observer to manually track in on woodcock to gather location information.

Our study employed both GPS and VHF tags on woodcock to gather high resolution movement data in order to evaluate survival, habitat use, and movement patterns of woodcock in Louisiana. We were further able to utilize these data to compare VHF and GPS approaches to habitat sampling.

Our results suggest that survival rates in Louisiana may be lower than those on the breeding ground, particularly in an area with localized hunting pressure. Mean home range size (Minimum Convex Polygons) was 743 m2 during diurnal periods and 918 m2 during nocturnal periods. Mean hourly movement rate was very similar between day (23 m/hour) and night (26 m/hour). Mean distance traveled between diurnal and nocturnal MCPs was 0.65 km. Simulated random sampling locations which were based on “VHF” points subset from the GPS tags demonstrated that many sampling locations fell within the utilization area of the individual sampling.



Committee Chair

Collier, Bret



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