Montana State University

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Ecology Seminar Series

Thursday, December 6, 2012, from 3:30pm to 4:30pm
Lewis Hall, 304


Many grassland bird populations in the western Great Plains have declined substantially over the past half century. The majority of the remaining grassland bird habitat in this region supports livestock, which traditionally have been managed at moderate stocking rates to achieve sustainable livestock production goals. Alternative approaches are needed to simultaneously address production and conservation objectives. In particular, the use of more variable stocking rates and the restoration of historic disturbances by fire and black-tailed prairie dogs may be important in generating heterogeneous mosaics that support diverse breeding bird communities. I will discuss studies conducted in the shortgrass steppe of eastern Colorado assessing different approaches (livestock grazing, prescribed fire, and maintenance of black-tailed prairie dogs) to create breeding habitat for the mountain plover (Charadrius montanus), including potential tradeoffs with livestock production goals. I will also present findings from a study examining the interactive role of prescribed fire and livestock grazing in generating spatiotemporal heterogeneity in semi-arid rangelands. The effect of this patch-burn grazing management on vegetation structure is closely linked to breeding habitat for a suite of native grassland birds. I will discuss how management for grassland birds presents opportunities and tradeoffs for livestock production, and how recovery of grassland bird populations may rely on landscape-scale variability in rangeland management strategies.

To request disability accommodations or inform us of other special needs, please contact Judy Van Andel, 310 Lewis Hall, MSU, 994-2911.


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