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The Center for Native Grasslands Management

Title: Improving northern bobwhite habitat by converting tall fescue fields to native warm-season grasses
Year: 2000
Author(s): Washburn, B. E., Barnes, T. G., Sole, J. D.
Source Title: Wildlife Society Bulletin
Source Type: Journal
pages: 97-104
Original Publication: http://  
Abstract: Tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea) grasslands infected with an endophyte (Neotyphodium coenophialum) are poor wildlife habitat, and birds and mammals feeding thereon experience nutritional and reproductive problems. Converting tall fescue fields to native warm-season grasses (NWSG) is an accepted method to improve this habitat. The objective of our study was to evaluate the efficacy of techniques to kill tall fescue and establish NWSG to improve habitat for the northern bobwhite (Colinus virginianus). We tested combinations of prescribed burns and spring or fall pre-emergence applications of glyphosate (N-[phosphonomethyl]glycine) or imazapic ([+/-]-2-[4,5-dihydro-4-methyl-4(1-methylethyl)-5-oxo-1H-imidazol-2-yl]- 5-methyl-3-pyridinecarboxylic acid) herbicide with and without a post-emergence imazapic application. Prescribed burns, herbicide applications, and NWSG plantings were implemented in 0.1-ha treatment plots in spring and fall 1997 on 9 tall fescue fields in Kentucky. Resulting plant communities were described in fall 1998. Spring imazapic and glyphosate applications reduced (P < 0.05) tall fescue cover compared to the untreated controls. Among the spring treatments, imazapic applications resulted in greater (P < 0.05) coverage of NWSG than glyphosate applications. The best treatment to kill tall fescue and establish NWSG was a spring burn followed by a pre-emergence imazapic application and seeding NWSG. Regardless of treatment, tall fescue conversion improved the habitat characteristics of grasslands for northern bobwhites.