Submitted to: Society for Range Management Meeting Abstracts
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: September 2, 2010
Publication Date: N/A
Technical Abstract: Many grassland bird populations in the western Great Plains have declined substantially over the past half century. Today, the majority of the remaining grassland bird habitat supports livestock production. Since grassland bird abundance is linked to vegetation structure, and livestock grazing shapes vegetation structure, an understanding of the ecological and socioeconomic links between grazing management and grassland bird habitat is needed. We first present findings from the shortgrass steppe of Colorado, USA, highlighting tradeoffs between the influence of different rangeland management strategies (via cattle grazing, fire-grazing interactions, and prairie dogs) on grassland bird habitat versus cattle weight gains. These studies emphasize the importance of heterogeneity in vegetation structure and management practices to sustain the full suite of native shortgrass steppe birds. Second, we present findings from the mixed-grass prairie of Saskatchewan, Canada, to demonstrate how variation in rangeland management underlies variation in habitat for grassland songbirds. We discuss how management for grassland bird conservation presents management opportunities and tradeoffs for livestock production. Management for the recovery of grassland birds requires efforts to understand factors driving local decisions by individual producers and managers, as well as recognition of the importance of landscape-scale variability in grazing management strategies and vegetation structure.