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Wednesday, February 8 • 9:00am - 9:20am
Technical Session. Obligate Grassland Bird Response to Woody Plant Configurations

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AUTHORS: Stephen Winter, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service; Britt Smith, Texas Tech University; Sam Fuhlendorf, Oklahoma State University

ABSTRACT: The obligate grassland bird guild has experienced a decline in the Great Plains over the past 50 years. Much of this decline is due to the changes in land-use with the conversion of grassland to cropland. The encroachment and increase in woody plants on the remaining tracts of grasslands also has a negative impact. In 2010 and 2011 as part of a patch-burn grazing study we evaluated the influence of woody vegetation on eastern meadowlark, dickcissel, and grasshopper sparrow in southeast Nebraska. Grassland bird point-count surveys were conducted on 7 pastures treated with patch-burn grazing and 7 traditionally managed pastures, with each pasture receiving two bird surveys per year. Individual bird locations were recorded, entered into a GIS, and analyzed using a supervised woody landscape classification of each pasture and immediate surrounding landscape. Linear regression was used to evaluate the total percent cover, perimeter-area ratio of woody vegetation at 200m, 400m, and 800m buffers, and average individual bird distance to nearest woody plant. We saw no significant difference between grassland bird abundances in patch burn versus traditional pastures. However, our results indicate that eastern meadowlarks and dickcissels responded negatively to increased total woody cover and to decreased perimeter-area ratio, and positively as distance to nearest woody feature increased. Further, our results for grasshopper sparrows were inconclusive at all levels. This suggests that, depending on species, woody plant configuration may influence obligate grassland bird abundances.

Wednesday February 8, 2017 9:00am - 9:20am
Grand Ballroom B

Attendees (6)