State Wildlife Grant - T-23-HM

Project Title

Implementing Adaptive Grassland Management for Declining Grassland and Wetland Birds at the Davis Ranch

Target Species

Numerous grassland and wetland associated species

Timeline

April 2008 – Dec. 2010

Investigators

Eric Rosenquist, The Nature Conservancy

Description

In 2005, The Nature Conservancy (TNC) completed an analysis of the ecological health and threats to conservation targets at Davis Ranch and the surrounding landscape. The analysis found that the conservation area is large enough to support viable grassland and wetland communities and the full diversity of species anticipated to occur in the area; however; the condition (an integrated measure of the composition, structure, and biotic interactions) and landscape context (a measure of the dominant environmental regimes, processes and connectivity) is likely outside its natural range of variation and will require management intervention to retain significant habitat for several species of concern. Currently, Davis Ranch is managed using three independent deferred rotation grazing systems. While TNC has modified pasture configuration since acquiring the property, they have not had the resources to establish effective management on about 3,500 acres of the preserve. As a result, they have not been able to control distribution and grazing intensity, compromising efforts to create heterogeneous structure for grassland birds and negatively impact invasive grasses. This grant will allow them to implement needed management actions.