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Monday, January 29 • 2:40pm - 3:00pm
SYMPOSIA-04: Prairie Contour Buffer Strips Serve as Bird Nesting Habitat in Midwestern Agricultural Landscapes

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AUTHORS. Matthew D. Stephenson, Iowa State University Department of Natural Resource Ecology and Management; Lisa A. Schulte, Iowa State University Department of Natural Resource Ecology and Management; Robert W. Klaver, U.S. Geological Survey, Iowa Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit

ABSTRACT. Grasslands in the Midwest have seen a precipitous decline over the last 150 years, resulting in the loss of millions of acres of habitat for wildlife. A large majority of the land in the Midwest is privately owned and efforts to restore habitat on large scales will have to include partnerships with private landowners. Contour buffer strips of diverse native prairie in row crop fields have been demonstrated to be very effective at reducing nutrient and soil runoff and may also serve as quality habitat for birds on farms. From 2015-2017 we investigated bird use and nest success in contour strips planted to diverse native prairie on 15 farms in Iowa. Nests were located and monitored until success or failure and nest location, landscape, and vegetation variables were measured for 357 Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus) and 147 Dickcissel (Spiza americana) nests. AIC model selection of daily nest survival rates showed vegetation structure and density positively impacted nest survival for Red-winged Blackbirds and sites with large, mature prairie strips had a positive impact on nest survival for Dickcissels. These preliminary findings indicate that if widely adopted, contour strips of prairie could serve as quality nesting habitat across large parts of the agricultural Midwestern landscape.

Monday January 29, 2018 2:40pm - 3:00pm CST