L. Mike Conner

L. Mike Conner
The Jones Center at Ichauway

PhD

About

162
Publications
29,787
Reads
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2,881
Citations
Additional affiliations
May 1988 - June 1994
Mississippi State University
Position
  • Research Associate

Publications

Publications (162)
Article
Longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) forests are among the most fire-dependent forest types in the world and once dominated much of the southeastern United States. Loss and fragmentation of longleaf pine shrank its distribution to approximately 4% of its historic range; as a result, longleaf pine forests currently receive much conservation and restorati...
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Large carnivore restoration programs are often promoted as capable of providing ecosystem services. However, these programs rarely measure effects of successful restoration on other economically and ecologically important species. In South Florida, while the endangered Florida panther Puma concolor coryi population has increased in recent years due...
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Managing wildlife populations in the face of global change requires regular data on the abundance and distribution of wild animals but acquiring these over appropriate spatial scales in a sustainable way has proven challenging. Here we present the data from Snapshot USA 2020, a second annual national mammal survey of the United States of America. T...
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Context Fire influences the distribution of ecosystems on Earth, but the link between pyrodiversity, the heterogeneity in post-fire conditions, and biodiversity is just emerging. Objectives We tested the pyrodiversity begets biodiversity theory, which was developed at broader scales, to a scale where land management decisions are commonly made. M...
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Both fire and predators have strong influences on the population dynamics and behaviour of animals, and the effects of predators may either be strengthened or weakened by fire. However, knowledge of how fire drives or mediates predator-prey interactions is fragmented and has not been synthesised. Here, we review and synthesise knowledge of how fire...
Article
The southeastern United States supports some of the greatest levels of amphibian diversity in North America, and several species are in decline. Invasive species in the southeastern United States, such as the red imported fire ant (Solenopsis invicta; hereafter RIFA), may be a factor in amphibian declines via depredation, injury of, and/or competit...
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Context Predation-risk and ecological disturbance regimes can both influence behavioral decisions by prey, yet few studies have simultaneously considered responses to these ecological pressures. Elucidating relationships between predation risk and the costs and benefits associated with multiple natural disturbances can contribute to a better unders...
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Fear of the human ‘super predator’ has been demonstrated to so alter the feeding behavior of large carnivores as to cause trophic cascades. It has yet to be experimentally tested if fear of humans has comparably large effects on the feeding behavior of large herbivores. We conducted a predator playback experiment exposing white-tailed deer to the v...
Article
Carrion is an important resource, and competition for carrion by microbial, invertebrate, and vertebrate scavenging communities is great. In particular, carrion is important to facultative and obligate vertebrate scavengers globally, and these species provide an irreplaceable ecological service by efficiently removing carcasses, which potentially h...
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Bait is often used to increase wildlife harvest susceptibility, enhance viewing opportunities, and survey wildlife populations. The effects of baiting depend on how bait influences space use and resource selection at multiple spatial scales. Although telemetry studies allow for inferences about resource selection within home ranges (third-order sel...
Article
Anthropogenically modified systems tend to have homogenous wildlife communities. While this process is well documented, the mechanisms driving the convergence of species in human-modified systems are unclear. There are at least two compelling ecological explanations for the loss of specialized species in these settings; changes to the distribution...
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Animals living underground deal with multiple physiological challenges, such as hypoxia and hypercarbia, but may have reduced thermoregulation demands because of the more stable underground microclimate. Southeastern pocket gophers (Geomys pinetis Rafinesque) occur in the fire-adapted, open-pine forests of the southeastern Atlantic Coastal Plain wh...
Article
Prey species often mitigate predation risk through alteration of spatiotemporal diel activity patterns whereby prey access high-quality resources in risky areas during predator downtimes. However, dominance hierarchies exist in some prey species, and temporal partitioning is a mechanism thought to reduce aggressive intraspecific interactions. How d...
Article
Pocket gophers (Geomyidae) require soils amenable to burrowing and vegetation communities that provide adequate foods. We examined the interplay of soil texture and vegetation structure in determining site occupancy of the southeastern pocket gopher (Geomys pinetis), a species of conservation concern throughout its range. Using a case-control sampl...
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The color patterns of an animal’s pelage, feather, or skin serve a variety of adaptive functions; importantly, one function is concealment through background matching. In spatially and temporally heterogeneous environments, some species exhibit multiple distinct color patterns within a population (i.e., color polymorphism). The environmental driver...
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An animal’s pelage, feather, or skin color can serve a variety of functions, so it is important to have multiple standardized methods for measuring color. One of the most common and reliable methods for measuring animal coloration is the use of standardized digital photographs of animals. New technology in the form of a commercially available handh...
Article
Many sympatric species use Gopherus polyphemus (Gopher Tortoise) burrows as refugia from predators, extreme temperatures, and fire. As part of an ongoing project involving trail-camera monitoring at Gopher Tortoise burrows, we observed a Sciurus niger (Eastern Fox Squirrel) sheltering in an occupied burrow twice in a single day. Eastern Fox Squirre...
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Carrion is a valuable resource used by facultative scavengers across the globe. Due to conflicts with humans, many vertebrate scavengers have experienced population declines due to direct persecution or indirect effects of human activities. However, little is known about the implications of altered scavenger community composition on the fate and ef...
Article
Understanding the link between environmental factors such as disturbance events, land cover, and soil productivity to spatial variation in animal abundance is fundamental to population ecology and wildlife management. The Longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) ecosystem is an archetypal fire-mediated ecosystem, which has seen drastic reductions in land ar...
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Extreme climatic events (ECEs) are increasing in frequency and intensity and this necessitates understanding their influence on organisms. Animal behaviour may mitigate the effects of ECEs, but field studies are rare because ECEs are infrequent and unpredictable. Hurricane Irma made landfall in southwestern Florida where we were monitoring white-ta...
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Predator communities are changing worldwide: large carnivores are declining while mesocarnivores (medium-sized mammalian predators) are increasing in number and ecological influence. Predator choice of prey is not random and different predators select prey with different characteristics. Changes in predator communities can change predation patterns...
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Recently, a two-year study found that long-term prescribed fire significantly reduced tick abundance at sites with varying burn regimes (burned surrounded by burned areas [BB], burned surrounded by unburned areas [BUB], and unburned surrounded by burned areas [UBB]). In the current study, these ticks were tested for pathogens to more directly inves...
Article
An animal's perception of predation risk varies across a heterogeneous landscape. Animals rely on indirect cues in the environment, including availability of protective cover, openness of sightlines and distance to refuge to evaluate potential predation risk. Interactions between the indirect cues that influence an animal's perception of predation...
Article
We determined the prevalence of selected Rickettsiales in 362 ticks removed from outdoor workers in southwest Georgia and northwest Florida, USA. Persons submitted an average of 1.1 ticks/month. We found Ehrlichia chaffeensis in an Amblyomma maculatum tick, and Panola Mountain Ehrlichia sp. in 2 A. maculatum ticks and 1 Dermacentor variabilis tick.
Article
Open pine ecosystems of the southern United States are a conservation priority for many agencies, organizations, and private landowners. These woodlands, characterized by moderately-stocked overstories, low cover of midstory, and grass-dominated herbaceous groundcover, provide important habitat for a suite of rare and declining wildlife species. To...
Article
Live-trapping is important for studying wildlife. In 2016 at Ordway-Swisher Biological Station in Melrose, Florida, USA, we tested the efficacy of a modified pitfall trap designed to safely and effectively capture southeastern pocket gophers (Geomys pinetis). When compared with the commonly used Hart trap, the new design captured 92% of all live ca...
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• Fear of predators can behaviorally mediate prey population dynamics, particularly when predation risk influences reproductive investment. However, the costs of reproductive investment may mitigate predation risk aversion relative to periods when the link between reproductive output and prey behavior is weaker. • We posit that intensity of reprodu...
Article
We observed a series of long-distance movements by an adult male Sciurus Niger (Eastern Fox Squirrel). The squirrel traveled 1040 m between 25 May and 27 May, and ≥503 m on 5 separate occasions between 29 April and 25 May 2017. The individual traveled between experimental foraging sites and was photographed by remote cameras placed at each site. Th...
Article
Management of longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) forests relies on frequent prescribed fire to maintain desirable plant communities. Prescribed fire is often applied while female wild turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo) are reproductively active and may immediately affect habitat availability and demographic outcomes. We identified covariates affecting sele...
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Background: Pine savannas are primarily managed with frequent prescribed fire (≤ 3 years) to promote diversity of flora and fauna, and to maintain open, park-like conditions needed by species such as the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker (Picoides borealis). However, a knowledge gap exists in our understanding of bobcat (Lynx rufus) habitat select...
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Behavioral responses of prey to predation risk can affect lower trophic levels. White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus; hereafter deer) increase vigilance in response to coyote (Canis latrans) presence, but vigilance responses to spatiotemporal variation in coyote abundance are unknown. Therefore, we examined the relationship between deer foragi...
Article
Longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) forests rely on prescribed fire to limit encroachment of hardwoods and maintain early successional understory communities. However, prescribed fire may alter habitat availability while female eastern wild turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo silvestris) are reproductively active. In addition, the vigor of vegetation regrowth...
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Fire influences the distributions of cover and food resources for ungulates in frequently burned systems. Fire typically improves forage quality, and as a result, herbivores are often drawn to recently burned areas–a response termed the ‘magnet effect.’ Thus, fire can be an important tool for manipulating vegetation to benefit wildlife. However, mo...
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Global positioning system (GPS) technologies have improved the ability of researchers to monitor wildlife; however, use of these technologies is often limited by monetary costs. Some researchers have begun to use commercially available GPS loggers as a less expensive means of tracking wildlife, but data regarding performance of these devices are li...
Data
Circular errors probable (CEP, 50 and 95%) calculated for each of 20 GPS data collection sessions at 8 thresholds of estimated horizontal position error (EHPE). Data were collected using i-gotU GT-120 GPS loggers in Baker County, Georgia in 2014 and 2015. (XLSX)
Data
Fix success rates for each i-gotU GT-120 GPS logger deployment during trials assessing effects of cover on logger performance. Data were collected in Baker County, Georgia in 2015. (XLSX)
Data
Location error, number of satellites, and estimated horizontal position error (EHPE) values for locations collected by i-gotU GT-120 GPS loggers in Baker County, Georgia, in 2014 and 2015. (XLSX)
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Understanding habitat selection of gray foxes (Urocyon cinereoargenteus) is essential to evaluate their potential response to changes in land use and predator communities. Few studies have evaluated temporal habitat selection or explicitly identified habitats used by gray foxes for diurnal refugia. We used GPS collars to obtain location data for 34...
Article
Geomys pinetis (Southeastern pocket gopher) is a fossorial rodent historically associated with Pinus palustris (longleaf pine) communities. Conversion and fragmentation of longleaf pine communities have reduced quality and quantity of southeastern pocket gopher habitat. It is therefore important to determine characteristics of suitable habitat for...
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The southeastern pocket gopher Geomys pinetis is absent from a large portion of its historical range. Translocation may represent a viable management technique to reestablish populations into suitable habitat. However, several aspects of the species’ ecology are poorly understood, making development of an effective translocation approach challengin...
Article
Carrion is a valuable nutrient resource used by a diversity of vertebrates across the globe. However, vertebrate scavenging ecology remains an understudied area of science, especially in regards to how biotic and abiotic factors influence scavenging community composition. Here we elucidate how fundamental biotic and abiotic factors interact to modu...
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Predation risk can induce individual prey to express behavioral, physiological, and morphological traits that can influence population-level processes. Maternal care is an intuitive link between predator-mediated traits of individuals and population-level processes because maternal investment can decrease with predation risk, and often influences p...
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The red imported fire ant (Solenopsis invicta; hereafter RIFA) is an invasive predator found on four continents, namely South America, North America, Australia, and Asia. Red imported fire ants are implicated in the decline of native invertebrates and vertebrates throughout their invaded range. We used the eastern fence lizard (Sceloporus undulatus...
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Camera surveys commonly are used by managers and hunters to estimate white-tailed deer Odocoileus virginianus density and demographic rates. Though studies have documented biases and inaccuracies in the camera survey methodology, camera traps remain popular due to ease of use, cost-effectiveness, and ability to survey large areas. Because recruitme...
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Context. Throughout the world, declines in large mammalian carnivores have led to the release of smaller mesomammalian predators. Coyotes (Canis latrans) have increased in abundance, distribution and ecological influence following the extirpation of apex predators in North America. Coyotes have had substantial influence on many ecosystems in recent...
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Despite numerous studies estimating gray fox Urocyon cinereoargenteus home range sizes, there have been few studies to evaluate more nuanced space use patterns; thus little is known about gray fox spatial ecology beyond estimates of home range size. We used GPS-technology to track 34 gray foxes (20 males and 14 females) from February 2014 until Dec...
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Reproductive success is a critical factor affecting avian demographics and can be influenced by many factors including nesting chronology, predation risk, and fine-scale nest site selection.We modeled the relative influences of habitat-related covariates at six spatial scales (nest site: 15-, 40-, 80-, 120-, 160-, and 200-m radii) on Eastern wild t...
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Raccoons (Procyon lotor) are native and ubiquitous throughout much of the continental United States and are invasive in many countries around the world. Where they occur, raccoons are a known predator of ground-nesting birds and herpetofauna. Raccoons often are associated with hardwood trees; therefore, hardwood reduction in open pine (Pinus spp.)...
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Predators can have powerful nonconsumptive effects on their prey by inducing behavioral, physiological, and morphological responses. These nonconsumptive effects may influence prey demography if they decrease birthrates or increase susceptibility to other sources of mortality. The Reproductive Suppression Model suggests that iteroparous species may...
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Fire-maintained Pinus palustris (longleaf pine) ecosystems are species rich and considered a top conservation priority in the southeastern United States. Ground-nesting species such as Gopherus polyphemus (gopher tortoise) and Colinus virginianus (northern bobwhite) thrive in longleaf ecosystems. However, the generalist carnivore Procyon lotor (rac...
Article
We assessed the effects of red imported fire ants (Solenopsis invicta; hereafter fire ant) on the foraging of hispid cotton rats (Sigmodon hispidus). We used a manipulative experiment, placing resource patches with a known amount of millet seed within areas with reduced (RIFA [-]) or ambient (RIFA [+]) numbers of fire ants. We measured giving up de...
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Longleaf pine savannas have declined throughout the southeastern United States due to land-use change. Fortunately, natural resource professionals are currently restoring these ecologically and economically important savannas. Although efforts are underway to restore longleaf pine savannas, little information exists on female eastern wild turkey Me...
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Longleaf pine savannas have declined throughout the Southeastern United States due to land-use change. Fortunately, natural resource professionals are currently restoring these ecologically and economically important savannas. Although efforts are underway to restore longleaf pine savannas, little information exists on female Eastern wild turkey (M...
Article
Frequent prescribed fire (≤3 yr) and selective harvest of off-site hardwoods are the primary restoration and management tools for pine (Pinus spp.) savannas in the southeastern United States. However, a knowledge gap exists in our understanding of eastern wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo silvestris) habitat selection in longleaf pine savannas and r...
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The ecological implications of coyote Canis latrans colonization of the eastern USA have drawn considerable interest from land managers and the general public. The ability to predict how these ecosystems, which have lacked larger predators for decades, would respond to the invasion of this highly adaptable species needs an understanding of coyote f...
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We used the imported red-fire ant (Solenopsis invicta; hereafter fire ant) and hispid cotton rat (Sigmodon hispidus) as model species to address the population-level effects of an invasive ant on a semiprecocial small mammal. We stocked cotton rats into 8 enclosures, implementing a 2-way factorial design with predator (ambient or excluded) and fire...
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Declining large carnivore populations, increased habitat fragmentation, declining interests in fur trapping, and other anthropogenic factors can all lead to increased mesopredator populations and these may negatively impact biodiversity. Lethal mesopredator control potentially mitigates some of these effects but can be controversial, largely becaus...
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Lethal control of coyotes (Canis latrans) is a mechanism for increasing white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) recruitment but can be difficult to implement and may be ineffective on small parcels of land because of coyote immigration. In 2003, we constructed 4 40-ha mesopredator exclosures with the objective of quantifying the influence of mes...
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Autonomous recording units (ARUs) allow simultaneous sampling at multiple locations and potentially offer an innovative way to improve assessments of gobbling chronology in male wild turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo spp.). We conducted research on 2 similar study sites in southwestern Georgia, USA, by deploying 14 ARUs across the 2 sites during 2011 an...