The use of a small scale study and regional data sources to understand grassland bird habitat relationships
Type of DegreeMaster's Thesis
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Habitat loss and degradation, among other factors, contributed to a steady decline in grassland bird populations across the U.S. Many large scale management efforts are in place to stabilize and increase grassland bird populations through habitat restoration and protection. To inform this effort, large scale habitat associations of birds can help predict where best to put habitat and the benefit to grassland bird populations. We developed a directed dynamic occupancy study and utilized avian database information from the North American Breeding Bird Survey to understand occupancy-habitat associations of bobwhite (Colinus virginianus), eastern meadowlark (Sturnella magna) and dickcissel (Spiza americana) in the Black Belt Region of the Upper East Gulf Coastal Plain Joint Venture to inform regional conservation planning. Our results indicate grassland connectivity and landscape composition are important habitat factors to consider on multiple scales for multi-species conservation. Also, the use of avian database sources is variable and prior considerations should be considered before applying data to occupancy modeling techniques.