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Wednesday, February 8 • 10:20am - 10:40am
Technical Session. Influence of Vegetation Cover on Avian Productivity and Community Ecology in Restored Grasslands of the Prairie Pothole Region

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AUTHORS: Ashlee K. Minor, Doctoral Student, Southern Illinois University-Department of Zoology, Cooperative Wildlife Research Laboratory; Michael Eichholz, Southern Illinois University-Department of Zoology, Cooperative Wildlife Research Laboratory, Center for Ecology

ABSTRACT: Numerous conservation efforts in the Prairie Pothole Region seek to restore critical breeding habitat for grassland birds and waterfowl.  Past restoration strategies, directed primarily at waterfowl, created secure nesting habitat using a low-diversity seed mix known as Dense Nesting Cover.  However, Dense Nesting Cover may not meet the habitat requirements for other grassland dependent species, and without intensive management has demonstrated increased susceptibility to invasive vegetation species.  Recently, restoration practices have shifted toward a more ecologically-sound approach, using species-rich native plantings (16-32 species), but community-level impacts are largely unknown.  This study seeks to understand the influence of vegetation cover on grassland bird productivity and community interactions that potentially limit grassland avian populations.  Weekly ATV-chain drags and passerine rope drags were conducted during peak breeding seasons, May to July 2014-2016, to monitor waterfowl and passerine nesting density and breeding success on 26, 20-ha study plots across southeastern North Dakota and northeastern South Dakota.  Small mammal abundance was estimated using Sherman live traps and mesopredator abundance was monitored using baited motion-activated field cameras.  Invertebrate communities were also sampled using vacuum traps during July 2014 to 2016 and pan traps and sweep net methods during July 2016.  I present preliminary results from this study.  Results of this study should provide information on the responses of grassland birds and the interacting wildlife communities to different vegetation cover types and guide grassland restoration and reseeding efforts.  This information will help direct and develop restoration strategies that best facilitate avian productivity while promoting suitable habitat heterogeneity for interacting grassland wildlife communities.

Wednesday February 8, 2017 10:20am - 10:40am CST
Grand Ballroom B