Assessing potential impacts to birds in relation to oil and gas development within the Williston Basin
The widespread expansion of unconventional oil and natural gas extraction throughout the world has raised concerns among wildlife managers about the potential effects of such development on animal populations and their habitats. Among the primary concerns is the loss of native vegetation to extraction infrastructure and avoidance of areas surrounding such infrastructure. For example, there has been a recent expansion of hydraulic fracturing in the Northern Great Plains of North America in a region called the Williston Basin. This region is also home to historically large expanses of wetlands and grasslands that are necessary breeding habitat for various migratory bird species. Rapid loss of grassland to agricultural conversion in this region seems to have negatively affected grassland bird populations, and the recent addition of oil and gas development is likely to be an additional stressor to these populations.
With this analysis, I intend to assess the degree to which patterns in grassland songbird abundance could be driven by patterns in agricultural land use and energy development. Additionally, I plan to assess whether the spatiotemporal dynamics of grassland bird populations might also be expected to be different depending on patterns in these two types of landuse.
Max Post van der Burg