State Wildlife Grant - T-46-R

Project Title

Full Annual Cycle Demographic Monitoring of Grassland Birds Nesting in the Northern Great Plains

Target Species

Baird’s Sparrow, Grasshopper Sparrow, Sprague’s Pipit, Chestnut-collared Longspur

Timeline

March 2015 - Dec. 2017

Investigators

Nancy Drilling, Bird Conservancy of the Rockies

Description

Over the past several decades, grassland bird populations, including those migratory species breeding in the mixed-grass prairies of North Dakota, have declined more than any other guild of birds. However, the factors driving these declines are not clearly understood. Population growth rates are driven by key life-history parameters, including annual productivity, juvenile survival and adult survival. In North Dakota, very little is known with regards to these vital demographic rates for grassland bird species of highest conservation priority. A better understanding of these demographic rates and how they influence population dynamics is needed to identify why grassland bird species are declining, what conservation actions are needed, and where these actions should be implemented. Information on impacts on vital rates needs to be examined within the context of all stages of the annual cycle, to help conservationists identify the timing and locations of where populations are most limited. The project is a key step in generating baseline information needed to assess the relative impact of environmental conditions and potential threats on demographic rates for each stage of the annual cycle, currently identified as a high priority research need.

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