Navigation Links
Birds in Flint Hills of Kansas, Oklahoma face population decline despite large habitat
Date:3/3/2009

The wide-open spaces of the Flint Hills may no longer provide a secure home on the range for several familiar grassland birds, according to research by a Kansas State University ecologist and her colleagues.

The researchers found that three bird species common to the Flint Hills region of Kansas and Oklahoma are experiencing serious population decline in the face of extensive land-management practices like annual burning and widespread grazing

The Flint Hills contain the largest remaining tracts of tallgrass prairie, a habitat that once covered much of the Great Plains but of which only 4 percent is now left, mostly in the Flint Hills. Far from being pristine prairie, however, the Flint Hills region supports a major cattle industry and is intensively managed.

"Because of its size, the Flint Hills is assumed to be a population stronghold for grassland birds," said Kimberly With, a K-State associate professor of biology who led the study. "Mostly this has been based on bird counts, but they can be misleading because they don't show what the region is capable of producing. Birds are very mobile and thus birds could come from elsewhere to give the appearance of a stable population year after year. This is especially true if the region attracts birds because of its size, but birds do not breed successfully once they settle here."

With was joined by ecologists Anthony King from the Oak Ridge National Laboratory and William Jensen, a former postdoctoral researcher in With's lab at K-State. They conducted a two-year study of regional viability of three grassland birds: the dickcissel, grasshopper sparrow and eastern meadowlark. With and her colleagues found that none of these bird species is viable in the 4 million-acre Flint Hills region. They estimated population declines of as much as 29 percent per year during the years studied.

The results were published in December 2008 in the journal Biological Conservation, http://tinyurl.com/cza3xy

"Although considered to be relatively common, all three of these species have been exhibiting declines at a continent-wide level," With said.

According to a 2007 report by The National Audubon Society, two of these species -- the grasshopper sparrow and eastern meadowlark -- have lost 62 percent and 75 percent, respectively, of their global population in the past 40 years.

With and her colleagues found that birds are not breeding successfully in the Flint Hills. With said that more than 80 percent of nests were destroyed by predators. They also found that birds nesting in native prairie hayfields were more successful than birds nesting in grazed grassland. She said this might be because in the Flint Hills, the hayfields were mown later than in other prairie regions, enabling birds to finish nesting before the nests are mowed under.

"These hayfields are a less disturbed habitat than other managed grasslands in the Flint Hills, 90 percent of which is grazed and up to two-thirds may be burned," With said.

The researchers suggest that land-management practices may offer only part of the explanation for declining bird populations.

"There was a drought one of the two years we studied the birds, and in that year birds didn't do well anywhere," With said. "Under global climate change, we may see more prolonged droughts and less frequent, but more intense storms. If rain comes as intense storms with hail, that could be just as lethal to the birds."

With said that more study is needed before recommendations can be made to help manage these bird populations. But she said that the results are still valuable because -- like a canary in a coal mine -- birds indicate a region's overall environmental health.

"The cattle industry is important economically to the region," With said. "The region is also ecologically important. The challenge is to what extent you can successfully achieve these joint aims of agriculture and conservation within the Flint Hills."


'/>"/>

Contact: Kimberly With
kwith@k-state.edu
785-532-5040
Kansas State University
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. Shade coffee benefits more than birds
2. The birds of Spain, in a digital ornithological encyclopedia
3. Practice as well as sleep may help birds learn new songs
4. Genetic evidence for avian influenza movement from Asia to North America via wild birds
5. Beavers: Dam good for songbirds
6. Captain Birdseyes robotic nose
7. Scavenger birds chew the fat
8. Distinguishing between 2 birds of a feather
9. Brown tree snake could mean Guam will lose more than its birds
10. For the birds or for me? Why do conservationists really help wildlife?
11. Songbirds may hold key to advances in treatment of brain degeneration
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Birds in Flint Hills of Kansas, Oklahoma face population decline despite large habitat
(Date:6/20/2016)... Securus Technologies, a leading provider of ... safety, investigation, corrections and monitoring announced that after ... secured the final acceptance by all three (3) ... Systems (MAS) installed. Furthermore, Securus will have contracts ... by October, 2016. MAS distinguishes between legitimate wireless ...
(Date:6/9/2016)... 9, 2016 Paris Police ... video security solution to ensure the safety of people and ... during the major tournament Teleste, an international technology ... services, announced today that its video security solution will be ... back up public safety across the country. The system roll-out ...
(Date:6/2/2016)... 2, 2016   The Weather Company , an IBM ... an industry-first capability in which consumers will be able to ... ask questions via voice or text and receive relevant information ... Marketers have long sought an advertising solution that ... be personal, relevant and valuable; and can scale across millions ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)... Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF) is pleased to announce 24 new Young ... cancer. Members of the Class of 2016 were selected from a pool of ... More About the Class of 2016 PCF Young Investigators ... ... ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... 23, 2016 , ... STACS DNA Inc., the sample tracking software company, today ... Laboratory, has joined STACS DNA as a Field Application Specialist. , “I am ... and COO of STACS DNA. “In further expanding our capacity as a scientific integrator, ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... , June 23, 2016 ... Review, 2016;12(1):22-8 http://doi.org/10.17925/OHR.2016.12.01.22 Published ... the peer-reviewed journal from touchONCOLOGY, Andrew D ... cost of cancer care is placing an increasing ... of expensive biologic therapies. With the patents on ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... June 23, 2016 , ... Velocity ... intelligent tools designed, tuned and optimized exclusively for Okuma CNC machining centers at ... result of a collaboration among several companies with expertise in toolholding, cutting tools, ...
Breaking Biology Technology: