Grubbing is a mechanical brush reduction technique that allows targeting of mesquite (Prosopis glandulosa) and huisache (Acacia farnesiana), and can be used to clear brush and open lanes for hunting northern bobwhite (Colinus virginianus). I initiated this study on the Santa Gertrudis Division of the King Ranch to determine the effects of grubbing and stacking on vegetation and arthropod communities important to bobwhite. I hypothesized that soil disturbance through treatments would lead to improved brooding, feeding and nesting habitat for bobwhite through an increase in herbaceous food plants and arthropods, as well as an increase in nesting cover. I also hypothesized treatments would lead to an increase in invasive grasses and goldenweed (Iscocoma drummondii). Vegetation was sampled pre-treatment in July 2012 and post-treatment in November 2012, March 2013, and July 2013. Arthropods were sampled pre-treatment in July 2012 and monthly post-treatment until July 2013, a year marked by extreme drought in south Texas. Although I did not detect a treatment effect on bobwhite food forbs, I detected a positive response of bobwhite food grasses and/or sedges one year after initial treatments and an increase in forb species richness 3 months after stacking. I found no treatment effect on invasive grasses and detected a decrease in goldenweed cover, likely due to mechanical removal during treatment application. I detected no effects of treatments on nesting cover. Treatments did not have an effect on total arthropod abundance; however, I did find fluctuations of arthropod biomass as well as effects on individual orders to treatments. Additional research needs to be conducted to evaluate the effect of grubbing when moisture availability is not a limiting factor.
July 27, 2016
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