Date of Award

Fall 12-1-2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Fisheries and Wildlife Science


Biological Sciences


College of Natural & Health Sciences

Committee Chair

Dr. Rachael Urbanek

Second Committee Member

Dr. Chris Kellner

Third Committee Member

Dr. Joseph Stoeckel

Program Director

Dr. Charles Gagen

Dean of Graduate College

Dr. Mary B. Gunter


State parks serve a dual conservation role by offering protected habitat to many species while also promoting recreational use of natural resources. Non-consumptive recreation activities, however, have long-term negative effects on the behavior, physiology, and reproductive success of state park biotic communities. The purpose of my research was to investigate the possible synergistic effects of non-consumptive trail use, environmental factors, and trail design factors on avian, mesocarnivore, and woody vegetation communities in Arkansas state parks. During 18 May – 7 August 2015, I conducted avian point counts, trail user counts, set camera traps, and sampled vegetation at 227 points on the main trail systems of 4 Arkansas state parks. I quantified community richness, evenness, and diversity for each taxon and used a series of 1-way ANOVAs and Kruskal-Wallis tests to examine differences in communities at regional and local scales. I also created 3 candidate model sets (e.g., richness, evenness, and diversity) for each taxonomic community in each park and used AICc and regression analyses to determine whether synergistic effects influenced biotic communities in the parks. These data were further used to create detection maps of flagship avifauna and to evaluate the efficacy of a pilot citizen science program in the parks. Differences in communities were predominantly restricted to the local scale and found in evenness and diversity values of avian (F3,22 = 9.57 – 17.8 P = 0.001 – 0.003) and understory vegetation communities (F3,22 = 7.38 – 9.41 P ≤ 0.001). Non-consumptive trail use was a strong predictor for avian richness (relative Akaike weight ω = 0.85) and diversity (ω = 0.70 – 0.84), however, vegetation communities and attributes were stronger determinants of the other biotic communities. Detection probabilities (0.00 – 0.99) for the 5 focal avifauna varied in response to a spectrum of trail use rates and response rates were low (2%) for the citizen science and human dimension surveys. In general, my results indicate the need for a holistic management strategy that addresses the collective anthropogenic and local environmental effects that influence park taxonomic communities while actively incorporating the public in those conservation goals.