Grassland Birds

Grassland Birds

Grassland birds are any bird species that is adapted to or rely on grassland habitats for all or part of its life cycle, including breeding, migration, or wintering. Although the original mission of Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center focused on research related to waterfowl production and wetland ecology, the Center has had a long history of research on grassland and other birds that has encompassed multiple ecological levels (species, population, community, ecosystem) and spatial and temporal scales.  Research and scientific inquiry on resident and migratory birds informally began at Northern Prairie in the early 1960s by Robert E. Stewart, Sr., and Harold A. Kantrud.  By the time the Center officially opened its doors in 1965, Stewart and Kantrud already had spent considerable time in the field developing sampling protocols and gathering information on avian and plant species and their distribution and habitats in the PPR and the northern Great Plains. These early studies set the foundation for future studies on birds in grasslands, wetlands, agro-ecosystems, and other habitats in this region.  Through time, Center scientists built upon these formative studies on birds to address questions related to grassland bird response to disturbance (natural and human-induced), changes in land use and cover, biological invasions (e.g., leafy spurge), Farm Bill programs (e.g., Soil Bank, CRP), water development (stock dams and ponds), energy development (wind, oil and gas), changes in local and regional climate, habitat restoration, and habitat fragmentation (e.g., Grassland Bird Conservation Area concept).  Together, past and recent studies have helped to develop the knowledge base essential for ecologically sound management of habitats for grassland and other birds in this region.  Many species of grassland birds in North America have experienced population declines in recent decades.  The current scientific program and expertise at Northern Prairie is in a strong position to address emerging issues and research challenges facing management and conservation of grassland and other birds in the region.




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