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The Center for Native Grasslands Management

Title: Influence of the conservation reserve program on landscape structure and potential upland wildlife habitat
Year: 2002
Author(s): Weber, W. L., Roseberry, J. L., Woolf, A.
Source Title: Wildlife Society Bulletin
Source Type: Journal
pages: 888-898
Original Publication: http://  
Abstract: The Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) has been converting environmentally sensitive acreage from agricultural production to semi-permanent vegetative cover since 1985. Agriculture comprises >80% of overall land use in Illinois, and CRP could have a profound impact on both landscape composition and structure. We recorded geographic locations and associated attribute data for all CRP fields within 11 selected counties in west-central and southern Illinois. CRP field locations were digitized, creating land-cover images from which landscape metrics were calculated. Land enrolled in CRP tended to be situated in landscapes characterized by smaller patches, greater edge density and diversity, and consequently greater fragmentation than the general county landscape. Conversion of lands from row-crop production to semi-permanent grass or tree plantings added grass and woodland to areas already containing relatively more of these land-cover types than in the general county landscape. Replacing cropland with CRP resulted in a decrease in the proportion, patch size, and edge density of row crop, concurrent with an increase in the proportion, patch size, and edge density of grassland and woodland. Land managers and wildlife biologists must collaborate to determine what patterns of CRP within the landscape will most benefit wildlife.