Honors Theses and Capstones

Date of Award

Spring 2018

Project Type

Senior Honors Thesis

College or School



Natural Resources and the Environment

Program or Major

Wildlife and Conservation Biology

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science

First Advisor

Matthew Tarr


In the northeastern U.S., thousands of miles of shrub-dominated transmission line rights-of-way (ROW) extend across the landscape and provide some of the largest and most stable shrubland habitats in the region. These ROW are used as nesting and post-fledging habitat by the region’s entire community of shrubland-dependent songbirds, but evidence for how ROW are used by songbirds that require other habitats for nesting is lacking. Mist-netting surveys conducted in regenerating clearcuts indicate that adult and fledgling mature-forest songbirds comprise a large proportion of the bird community in clearcuts during the post-fledging portion of the breeding season, a time when juvenile birds and molting adults require dense cover to avoid predators and abundant food resources to prepare for migration. In 2017, we began the first comprehensive mist-netting survey ever conducted in shrubby ROW in southern Maine and New Hampshire to inventory the entire community of songbirds using ROW during the nesting and post-fledging periods. In this preliminary year of our study, we investigated whether differences in the height, density, and species composition of plants between three ROW maintained by mowing and three ROW maintained with selective herbicide treatment resulted in differences in the community of shrubland-dependent or other-habitat-dependent songbirds. We conducted six mist net surveys in each ROW from late May-late August and captured 1,153 individual birds of 44 unique species. There was no difference in the richness or diversity of “Shrubland Species,” “Other Species,” or the entire songbird community between the different ROW types.