Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Potential Ivory-billed Woodpecker habitat, State-by-State

A few weeks ago I stayed up late many nights going through Terraserver rather exhaustively through most of the "historical range" of the Ivorybill looking for promising bottomlands. I simply looked for large, mostly contiguous tracts of bottomlands that appeared to have a good number of larger, more widely-spaced trees giving the canopy a "coarse texture." There is absolutely no ground truth (as they say in the remote sensing biz) to most of this; consider it a first-generation survey. I think most people will be surprised at how much of this habitat actually exists, especially on the Atlantic slope. I'd especially be interested in the impressions of people who actually know these areas first-hand, on the ground, as well as pointing out areas I may have overlooked.

Apologies in advance to our northern fellows, but I arbitrarily cut off my survey at the northern borders of Arkansas, Tennessee, Georgia, and South Carolina. That does not reflect an opinion on the habitat up there, I just needed to draw a line somewhere so I could get some sleep!

Results are given in the following postings. Everything is listed west-to-east:

Texas
Arkansas
Louisiana
Tennessee
Mississippi
Alabama
Florida
Georgia
South Carolina

Summary

8 Comments:

At 12:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bill, sleep is overrated! Besides, some of us would like to see IBW territories for Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, and Mo. Particularly following the major river systems.

Any help would be appreciated.

Thanks,

Jesse

 
At 12:54 PM, Blogger Bill Pulliam said...

Other than sleep... there's an issue that the habitat used by the birds farther north might have been (be) different. Especially farther up the Ohio and Mississippi, extensive miles-wide bottomland swamps like those of the coastal plain never did exist. There's also that 19th century report from northwest Georgia, which is well outside of what is generally considered the historically documented habitat. I think it very likely that more northern birds used (use) a mix of upland and botomland, wherever the food resources were (are) to be found.

 
At 5:22 PM, Anonymous IBWO JIMA said...

I think your work is fantastic, Bill! I'm going to study it carefully and it will heavily influence my searches next winter. Thanks so much for all the time you've put in!

 
At 10:45 AM, Blogger 70ivorybill78 said...

Hey Bill

I agree with Jesse regarding the northern locations, but do realize the cut off reasons. Also, birds that are wondering dispersers may occur in states that are not considered the norm.

 
At 7:11 PM, Anonymous Andigena (Will) said...

Bill; Thanks for a great job of summarizing a huge amount of data into something we can understand. I am curious about your Ouachita-Saline area. Apparently there are several NWR there--Felsenthal in Ark. and Upper Ouachita and others in north LA. Just the first two are supposed to have 56,000 acres of bottomland hardwoods....not counting open water/pinelands, etc. Who owns the rest? By the way, your tip on how to block unwanted posters on threads works great!

 
At 8:14 PM, Blogger Bill Pulliam said...

Thanks for all the kind comments, y'all! It was actually quite a pleasant job looking at all those swamps and dreaming of what they might be like from the ground (or water).

I don't know a lot about that area in Arkansas, but off the top of my head I would guess that some of it is state and much is private, probably divided amogst gun clubs, timber companies, and lots of smaller holdings. The AR state wildlife dept or any AR chapter of a hunting or conservation organization could probably tell you a lot about who and where.

 
At 4:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Extensive miles wide bottomland swamps never did exist?

Sorry, Bill, but I really think you are way off the mark on that one. Miles wide bottomland did exist, and much of it was drained and logged. Cypress large enough to walk through were present (hollow trees) and the existed up into mid eastern Illinois on the Wabash.

 
At 6:41 PM, Blogger Bill Pulliam said...

I didn't think the actual geological floodplains were that wide farther north, though? I thought the swamps were a narrower strip bordered by bluffs closer to the main channel than what was found farther south?

 

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