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The Center for Native Grasslands Management

Title: Influences of management regimes on breeding bird densities and habitat in mixed-grass prairie: An example from North Dakota
Year: 2006
Author(s): Lueders, A. S., Kennedy, P. L., Johnson, D. H.
Source Title: Journal of Wildlife Management
Source Type: Journal
pages: 600-606
Original Publication: http://  
Abstract: We evaluated bird population densities and their habitats under cattle and bison management regimes in mixed grass prairie. Our objectives were to 1) determine the influence of these different range-management regimes on habitat structure, composition, and heterogeneity; and 2) determine whether bird breeding densities differ between regimes. As predicted, we observed substantially different patterns of habitat structure between regimes. At many of the bison plots, much of the higher habitat structure and shrub cover was due to more western snowberry cover than in the cattle plots. We also observed differences in habitat heterogeneity between regimes. Bison plots had substantially higher heterogeneity in overall cover than cattle plots did. What is interesting about our results is that neither species richness nor bird densities were higher in the structurally more diverse habitat. We did not observe 4 species (chestnut-collared longspur, horned lark, lark bunting, and Spragueís pipit) in bison plots, where habitat structure and heterogeneity was higher than in the cattle plots. We did encounter these 4 species in the cattle plots, however. In our study, more birds chose the cattle-grazed habitat over the bison-grazed habitat for breeding season use. This difference was probably at least partly due to different habitat preferences among these species; 3 species that we did not observe in the bison plots (chestnut-collared longspur, horned lark, and lark bunting) generally prefer low vegetation structure during the breeding season.