Grassland bird densities in seral stages of mixed-grass prairie

Author: 
Fritcher, Shawn C.
Rumble, Mark A.
Flake, Lester D.
Publisher: 
Rangeland Ecology & Management / Journal of Range Management Archives
Publication Year: 
2004
Description: 
Birds associated with prairie ecosystems are declining and the ecological condition (seral stage) of remaining grassland communities may be a factor. Livestock grazing intensity influences the seral stage of grassland communities and resource managers lack information to assess how grassland birds are affected by these changes. We estimated bird density, species diversity, and species richness on 37 sites in 4 seral stages of western wheatgrass [Pascopyrum smithii (Rydb.) A. Löve]-green needlegrass [Nassella viridula (Trin.) Barkworth] communities of the Fort Pierre National Grassland. Bird species richness did not differ among seral stages (P = 0.57), but bird species diversity was greater (P < 0.10) in early seral stages compared to late-intermediate seral stages. Grasshopper sparrow (Ammodramus savannarum Gmlin), bobolink (Dolichonyx oryzivorus Linnaeus), dickcissel (Spiza americana Gmlin), and brown-headed cowbird (Molothrus ater Boddaert) density increased (P < 0.10) from early to late seral stages. Burrowing owl (Athene cunicularia Molina), upland sandpiper (Bartramia longicauda Bechstein), chestnut-collared longspur (Calcarius ornatus Townsend), and horned lark (Eremophila alpestris Linnaeus) density decreased (P < 0.10) from early to late seral stages. Western meadowlarks (Sturnella neglecta Audubon) were more abundant in early (P = 0.05) and early-intermediate (P = 0.01) seral stages than late seral stages. Birds with habitat requirements including tall vegetation and residual cover were more abundant in later seral stages. Early seral stages were beneficial to birds that prefer short grass and sparse vegetative cover. Seral stage was an effective predictor of density for many bird species. A mosaic that includes all seral stages is necessary to maximize grassland bird species diversity and abundance across the landscape. Managers can assess the effects on grassland birds of management actions that alter the seral stage of the vegetation.DOI:10.2458/azu_jrm_v57i4_fritcher
Document Type: 
Journal Issue/Article
Society for Range Management

Rangeland Ecology & Management (formerly the Journal of Range Management) serves as a forum for the presentation and discussion of facts, ideas, and philosophies pertaining to the study, management, ecology, and use of rangelands and their resources. The journal is peer-reviewed and provides international exchange of scholarly research and information among persons interested in rangelands. The Global Rangelands collection includes REM content up to 5 years from the current year. More recent content is available by subscription from BioOne and the Society for Range Management, and may be available at your local university library.
(Become a SRM member)