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Tuesday, January 26 • 4:00pm - 4:20pm
Grassland Bird Community Response To Sericea Lespedeza Control Using Fire and Grazing

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AUTHORS: Sarah Ogden*, Kansas Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Division of Biology, Kansas State University; David A. Haukos, U.S. Geological Survey, Kansas Cooperative Research Unit, Kansas State University; KC Olson, Department of Animal Sciences and Industry, Kansas State University; Jonathan Alexander, Department of Animal Sciences and Industry, Kansas State University; Jack Lemmon, Department of Animal Sciences and Industry, Kansas State University

ABSTRACT: Sericea lespedeza Lespedeza cuneata is an invasive forb that reduces native grass and forb abundance in tall-grass prairie by up to 92%. Owing to its high fecundity, phenology, and high tannin content, traditional management techniques (i.e., herbicide use, prescribed spring fire, and cattle grazing) are of limited utility in controlling the species. We have found that the use of 1) mid- and late -summer fire and 2) grazing by a combination of steers and sheep to be useful management strategies for sericea lespedeza control in the Kansas Flint Hills. We assessed the response of breeding grassland bird species to both management strategies. We conducted fixed-radius point counts and monitored grassland bird nests to measure grassland bird community composition and estimate reproductive output. Grasshopper sparrows Ammodramus savannarum were more abundant in mid-summer and late summer fire treatment units than in spring fire units as well as in units grazed by steers and sheep compared to units grazed by only steers. Grassland bird species diversity, species richness, density, and reproductive output did not differ between treatments and controls. Our results indicate that summer prescribed fire and additional grazing by sheep will not negatively impact the grassland nesting bird community in the tall-grass prairie and grasshopper sparrow populations may benefit from such treatments.

Tuesday January 26, 2016 4:00pm - 4:20pm EST
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