Effects of grassland management on breeding birds at the western edge of the tallgrass prairie ecosystem in Kansas

Alexis F.L.A. Powell, William H. Busby

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

We studied responses of breeding birds to alternative regimes for managing tallgrass prairie at the Smoky Hill Air National Guard Range in central Kansas. Species richness, diversity, and evenness did not differ among treatments, but overall abundance was highest in unburned idle (i.e., not grazed or hayed) transects, and was lowest in idle transects burned that spring. However, no treatment was either superior or inferior to all others for attracting the highest numbers of every species. Dickcissels (Spiza americana) and Henlow's sparrows (Ammodramus henslowii) were most numerous in unburned idle units, grasshopper sparrows (A. savannarum) were most abundant in grazed units and hayed units, upland sandpipers (Bartramia longicauda) were most often found in burned units, whereas eastern meadowlarks (Sturnella magna) were less abundant in burned units than in all other treatments. We conclude that the recent switch to burning idle units every 3-4 years, rather than annually, has benefitted most grassland bird species. The variety of management regimes implemented at Smoky Hill Air National Guard Range fosters heterogeneity of vegetative structure across the landscape, and thereby allows the site to provide for differing needs of various species, thus enhancing its value for grassland bird conservation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)130-138
Number of pages9
JournalNatural Areas Journal
Volume33
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2013

Keywords

  • grassland birds
  • grazing
  • haying
  • prescribed burning
  • rangeland
  • tallgrass prairie

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