Results from recently completed and award winning project, Conspecific Attraction as a Management Tool for Endangered and At-risk Species on Military Lands were just published in the Journal of Field Ornithology.

Possessing two objectives, the project (1) demonstrated the use of conspecific attraction as a cost-effective management tool for encouraging colonization of restored habitats by target at-risk bird and amphibian species; and 2) tested the use of conspecific attraction to establish populations following cessation of the broadcast calls.

To maintain open access to training lands, the Department of Defense spends considerable effort in restoring habitats for species of conservation concern. The approach examined in this project, called conspecific attraction can be used to attract species both within an installation to established conservation areas or to partner lands away from conflict with military training. With minimal financial and time investment, the researchers used conspecific attraction as a management tool to not only lure at-risk species to safe habitats but to establish long-term viable populations in those locations. The project equipment broadcast prerecorded vocalizations of target species from a playback system within the key areas. The playback system consisted of a call box on a timer powered by a battery. Vocalizations were broadcast throughout the focal species’ breeding seasons from restored habitats and encouraged individuals to settle and breed near the playback system.

The recent journal article highlights the project team’s work detecting the presence of Northern Bobwhites (Colinus virginianus). In the past, the majority of the conspecific attraction studies examined the technology as a recruitment tool but only looked at either migratory or colonial-breeding species. As a result, less was known about the possible importance of conspecific attraction for resident species. In 2017 and 2018, the project team examined the possible use of conspecific attraction as a management tool for Northern Bobwhites (Colinus virginianus), a game bird and year-round resident in Louisiana. Project results outlined in the journal article suggest that a non-migratory, resident species may select breeding locations based, at least in part, on the presence of conspecifics. The research shows that playing back conspecific calls in early spring when Northern Bobwhites are searching for breeding locations facilitate colonization, allow individuals to find locations where managers are attempting to restore their populations, and may be incorporated into management plans.

To learn more about the demonstration results check out the Final Report available on the SERDP & ESTCP website.