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The Center for Native Grasslands Management

Title: Treelines between fields reduce the density of grassland birds
Year: 2000
Author(s): O’Leary, C. H., Nyberg, D. W.
Source Title: Natural Areas Journal
Source Type: Journal
pages: 243-249
Original Publication: http://  
Abstract: The fragmenting of grasslands by fencerows with trees could be a factor contributing to the decline of grassland birds, especially species that are area-sensitive. We studied the spatial pattern of bird territory and nest locations in five fields in a complex of fields, fencerows, and woodlands in 1995 and 1996. Twelve species established territories in these fields, but the bobolink (Dolichonyx oryzivorus), eastern meadowlark (Sturnella magna), savannah sparrow (Passerculus sandwichensis), grasshopper sparrow (Ammodramus savanaruum), and Henslow’s sparrow (Ammodramus henslowii) did so only in the three fields larger than 15 ha. Territories and nest locations were mapped in the centrally located 15.9-ha field. The region within 50 m of the nearest edge constituted 47% of the field, but the edge area was used much less than the interior area. Territories of the grassland species were predominantly (82%) in the interior of the field, and 20 of 21 nests were > 50 m from an edge. Based on the low usage within 50 m of woody edges, we recommend connecting adjacent fields by replacing treelines or hedgerows with grasses in order to increase habitat for area-sensitive grassland birds.