Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Burger, Loren W., Jr.

Committee Member

Martin, James A.

Committee Member

Palmer, William E.

Committee Member

Wang, Guiming.

Committee Member

Leopold, Bruce D.

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access


Wildlife and Fisheries Science

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


College of Forest Resources


Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture


Understanding regulation of wild animal populations is important in ecological investigations and applied wildlife management. Progress in understanding regulatory processes has been hindered by a long-running debate over the role of density-dependent and density-independent variables in population regulation. Population regulation of exploited species is of particular interest because harvest theory is predicated on assumptions of density-dependent feedback. However, for many exploited species, the functional relationships and mechanisms of population regulation via density dependence are not quantified (e.g., Northern bobwhite (Colinus virginianus). Compounding this task is the lack of a mechanistic understanding of the influence of density-independent factors in population regulation. The overall goal of this dissertation is to investigate the roles of density-dependent and density-independent processes in bobwhite populations. Bobwhites are an excellent species to investigate the role and influence of density-dependent and density-independent factors due to their unique life history, wherein they can exhibit density dependence in survival, reproduction, or both. I provide support for the concomitant influence of density-dependent and density-independent processes operating to regulate bobwhite populations. My results support the importance of food and cover and the additive influence of density-dependent and density-independent factors on bobwhite annual survival. I also report evidence for the differential effects of covariates on survival phases. My results represent the first evidence of support for the Tub and Tap hypotheses on bobwhite survival. I also quantify a density-dependent effect on bobwhite recruitment. Collectively, these results provide new evidence for understanding the role of internal and external factors in bobwhite populations.



northern bobwhite||density dependence||recruitment||density independence