Date of Award
Master of Science
Mourning doves (Zenaida macroura) are one of the most prolific and adaptable bird species in North America, being found in rural and highly developed locales. However, some surveys have indicated a population decline in certain areas, perhaps as an effect of development and habitat loss. I studied nesting success, home range size, movements, and relative abundance of mourning doves along an urban-to-rural gradient in southern Illinois to assess the impact of urbanization on mourning doves in southern Illinois, and determine possible source - sink population dynamics. I found that mourning doves in southern Illinois selected nest-sites with a large percentage of buildings and lawn, even in areas of relatively small human populations. I estimated nest success at 69.4% during 2008 in two exurban sites, with nesting densities between 0.12 and 0.19 nests/ha. More mourning dove calls were heard in urban sites than rural sites, but the total number of calls heard decreased from 2007 to 2008. I trapped and banded 222 doves from 2007 to 2008, and 12 bands have been reported by hunters to date. These findings provide baseline data on landcover preferences and reproductive characteristics of doves in developed areas of southern Illinois. This investigation also estimates relative abundance in developed areas of southern Illinois, and compares these findings to other studies estimating relative abundance of mourning doves. This study provides evidence that nest success is relatively high compared to previous studies, and certain variables, including the percentage of landcover as buildings, influence nest-site selection and relative abundance in developed areas of southern Illinois.
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