Environmental Monitoring and Assessment

, Volume 146, Issue 1–3, pp 309–323 | Cite as

Effects of the Conservation Reserve Program on northern bobwhite and grassland birds

Article

Abstract

The Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) has converted just over 36 million acres of cropland into potential wildlife habitat, primarily grassland. Thus, the CRP should benefit grassland songbirds, a group of species that is declining across the United States and is of conservation concern. Additionally, the CRP is an important part of multi-agency, regional efforts to restore northern bobwhite populations. However, comprehensive assessments of the wildlife benefits of CRP at regional scales are lacking. We used Breeding Bird Survey and National Resources Inventory data to assess the potential for the CRP to benefit northern bobwhite and other grassland birds with overlapping ranges and similar habitat associations. We built regression models for 15 species in seven different ecological regions. Forty-nine of 108 total models contained significant CRP effects (P < 0.05), and 48 of the 49 contained positive effects. Responses to CRP varied across ecological regions. Only eastern meadowlark was positively-related to CRP in all the ecological regions, and western meadowlark was the only species never related to CRP. CRP was a strong predictor of bird abundance compared to other land cover types. The potential for CRP habitat as a regional conservation tool to benefit declining grassland bird populations should continue to be assessed at a variety of spatial scales. We caution that bird-CRP relations varied from region to region and among species. Because the NRI provides relatively coarse resolution information on CRP, more detailed information about CRP habitats (spatial arrangement, age of the habitat (time since planting), specific conservation practices used) should be included in future assessments to fully understand where and to what extent CRP can benefit grassland birds.

Keywords

Agriculture Breeding Bird Survey Conservation Reserve Program Grassland birds Landscape composition Natural Resources Inventory Northern bobwhite 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Best, L. B., Campa, H., III, Kemp, K. R., Robel, R. J., Ryan, M. R., Savidge, J. A., et al. (1997). Bird abundance and nesting in CRP fields and cropland in the Midwest: A regional approach. Wildlife Society Bulletin, 25, 864–877.Google Scholar
  2. Bock, C. E., Bock, J. H., & Bennett, B. C. (1996). Songbird abundance in grasslands at a suburban interface on the Colorado high plains. Studies in Avian Biology, 19, 131–136.Google Scholar
  3. Brady, S. J., & Flather, C. H. (1998a). Agricultural land use patterns and grassland nesting birds. Gibier Faune Sauvage, Game Wildlife, 15, 775–784.Google Scholar
  4. Brady, S. J., & Flather, C. H. (1998b). Range-wide patterns of northern bobwhite: Landuse patterns and population trends. Gibier Faune Sauvage, Game Wildlife, 15, 413–431.Google Scholar
  5. Brennan, L. A. (1991). How can we reverse the northern bobwhite population decline. Wildlife Society Bulletin, 19, 544–555.Google Scholar
  6. Brennan, L. A. (1999). Northern Bobwhite (Colinus virginianus). In A. Poole & F. Gill (Eds.), The birds of North America, No. 117. Philadelphia: The Birds of North America.Google Scholar
  7. Brennan, L. A., & Kulvesky, W. P. (2005). North American grassland birds: An unfolding conservation crisis. Journal of Wildlife Management, 69, 1–13.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Brennen, S. P., & Schnell, G. D. (2005). Relationship between bird abundances and landscape characteristics: The influence of scale. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 105, 209–228.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Burger, L. W., Jr. (2005). Wildlife responses to the Conservation Reserve Program in the Southeast. In J. B. Haufler (Ed.), Fish and wildlife benefits of farm bill conservation programs: 2000–2005 update (pp 63–92). The Wildlife Society, Technical Review 05-2.Google Scholar
  10. Burger, L. W., Jr., Kurzejeski, E. W., Dailey, T. V., & Ryan, M. R. (1990). Structural characteristics of vegetation on CRP fields in northern Missouri and their suitability as bobwhite habitat. Transactions of the North American Wildlife Resources Conference, 55, 74–83.Google Scholar
  11. Burger, L. W., Jr., McKenzie, D., Thackston, R., & DeMaso, S. J. (2006). The role of farm policy in achieving large-scale conservation: Bobwhite and buffers. Wildlife Society Bulletin, 34, 986–993.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Coppedge, B. R., Engle, D. M., Masters, R. E., & Gregory, M. S. (2006). Development of a grassland integrity index based on breeding bird assemblages. Environmental Monitoring & Assessment, 118, 125–145.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Dimmick, R. W., Gudlin, M. J., & McKenzie, D. F. (2002). The northern bobwhite conservation initiative. Miscellaneous publication of the Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. Columbia: South Carolina.Google Scholar
  14. Gill, D. E., Blank, P., Parks, J., Guerard, J. B., Lohr, B., Schwartzman, E., et al. (2006). Plants and breeding bird response on a managed Conservation Reserve Program grassland in Maryland. Wildlife Society Bulletin, 43, 944–956.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Greenfield, K. C., Chamberlain, M. J., Burger, L. W., Jr., & Kurzejeski, E. W. (2003). Effects of burning and disking Conservation Reserve Program fields to improve habitat quality for northern bobwhite (Colinus virginianus). American Midland Naturalist, 149, 344–353.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Gutzwiller, K. J., & Barrow, W. C. (2008). Desert bird associations with broad-scale boundary length: Applications in avian conservation. Journal of Applied Ecology, 45, in press.Google Scholar
  17. Haufler, J. B. (Ed.) (2005). Fish and wildlife benefits of farm bill conservation programs: 2000–2005 update. The Wildlife Society, Technical Review 05-2.Google Scholar
  18. Herkert, J. R. (1998). The influence of the CRP on grasshopper sparrow population trends in the mid-continental United States. Wildlife Society Bulletin, 26, 227–231.Google Scholar
  19. Herkert, J. R., Reinking, D. L., Wiedenfeld, D. A., Winter, M., Zimmerman, J. L., et al. (2003). Effects of prairie fragmentation on the nest success of breeding birds in the midcontinental United States. Conservation Biology, 17, 587–594.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Hohman, W. L., & Halloum, D. J. (Eds.) (2000). A comprehensive review of farm bill contributions to wildlife conservation 1985–2000. Technical Report, USDA/NRCS/WHMI-2000.Google Scholar
  21. Hosmer, D. W., & Lemeshow, S. (1989). Applied logistic regression. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  22. Johnson, D. H., & Schwartz, M. D. (1993). The Conservation Reserve Program: Habitat for grassland birds. Great Plains Research, 3, 273–295.Google Scholar
  23. Lichstein, J. W., Simons, T. R., Shriner, S. A., & Franzreb, K. E. (2002). Spatial autocorrelation and autoregressive models in ecology. Ecological Monographs, 72, 445–463.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Littell, R. C., Milliken, G. A., Stroup, W. W., Wolfinger, R. D., & Schabenberger, O. (2006). SAS for mixed models. Cary, North Carolina: SAS Institute, Inc.Google Scholar
  25. Martin, J. W., & Parrish, J. R. (2000). Lark Sparrow (Chondestes grammacus). In A. Poole & F. Gill (Eds.), The birds of North America, No. 117. Philadelphia: The Birds of North America.Google Scholar
  26. Mausbach, M. J., & Dedrick, A. R. (2004). The length we go: Measuring environmental benefits of conservation practices. Journal of Soil and Water Conservation, 59, 96A–103A.Google Scholar
  27. McCoy, T. D., Kurzejeski, E. W., Burger, L. W., Jr., & Ryan, M. R. (2001b). Effects of conservation practice, mowing, and temporal changes on vegetation structure on Conservation Reserve Program fields in northern Missouri. Wildlife Society Bulletin, 29, 979–987.Google Scholar
  28. McCoy, T. D., Ryan, M. R., & Burger, L. W., Jr. (2001a). Grassland bird conservation: CP1 vs. CP2 plantings in Conservation Reserve Program fields in Missouri. American Midland Naturalist, 145, 1–17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Mirarchi, R. E., & Baskett, T. S. (1994). Mourning dove (Zenaida macroura). In A. Poole & F. Gill (Eds.), The birds of North America, No. 117. Philadelphia: The Birds of North America.Google Scholar
  30. Murphy, M. T. (2003). Avian population trends within the evolving agricultural landscape of eastern and central United States. Auk, 120, 20–34.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Nash, S. (2007). Decrypting biofuel scenarios. BioScience, 57, 472–477.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Neter, J., Wasserman, W., & Kutner, M. H. (1989). Applied linear regression models. Homewood, Illinois: Richard D. Irwin, Inc.Google Scholar
  33. Nusser, S. M., & Goebel, J. J. (1997). The National Resources Inventory: A long-term multi-resource monitoring programme. Environmental and Ecological Statistics, 4, 181–204.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Peterjohn, B. G. (2003). Agricultural landscapes: Can they support healthy bird populations as well as farm products. Auk, 120, 14–19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Reynolds, R. E., Shaffer, T. L., Sauer, J. L., & Peterjohn, B. G. (1994). Conservation Reserve Program: Benefit for grassland birds in the Northern Plains. Transactions of the 59th North American Wildlife and Natural Resource Conference, 59, 328–336.Google Scholar
  36. Robbins, C. S., Bystrack, D., & Geissler, P. H. (1986). The breeding bird survey: Its first fifteen years, 1965–1979. Washington, DC: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Resource Publication 157.Google Scholar
  37. Robbins, C. S., & Van Velzen, W. T. (1967). The breeding bird survey, 1966. Washington, DC: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Special Scientific Report Wildlife Number 102.Google Scholar
  38. Roseberry, J. L., & David, L. M. (1994). The Conservation Reserve Program and northern bobwhite population trends in Illinois. Transactions of the Illinois State Academy of Science, 87, 61–70.Google Scholar
  39. Roseberry, J. L., & Sudkamp, S. D. (1998). Assessing the suitability of landscapes for northern bobwhite. Journal of Wildlife Management, 62, 895–902.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Ryan, M. R. (2000). Impact of the Conservation Reserve Program on wildlife conservation in the Midwest. In W. L. Hohman & D. J. Halloum (Eds.), A comprehensive review of farm bill contributions to wildlife conservation, 1985–2000 (pp. 45–54). U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Technical Report USDA/NRCS/WHMI-2000.Google Scholar
  41. Ryan, M. R., Burger, L. W., & Kurzejeski, E. W. (1998). The impact of CRP on avian wildlife: A review. Journal of Production Agriculture, 11, 62–66.Google Scholar
  42. Saab, V., Bock, C. E., Rich, T. D., & Dobkin, D. S. (1995). Livestock grazing effects in western North America. In T. E. Martin & D. M. Finch (Eds.), Ecology and management of neotropical migratory birds (pp. 311–353). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  43. Sauer, J. R., Hines, J. E., & Fallon, J. (2005). The North American breeding bird survey, results and analysis 1966–2005. Version 6.2.2006. Retrieved June 1, 2007, from USGS Pautuxent Wildlife Research Center, Laurel, Maryland website: http://www.mbr-pwrc.usgs.gov/bbs/.
  44. Sutherland, G. D., Harestad, A. S., Price, K., & Lertzman, D. P. (2000). Scaling of natal dispersal distances in terrestrial birds and mammals. Conservation Ecology, 4, Article 16 Retrieved June 1, 2007 from http://www.consecol.org/vol4/iss1/art16.
  45. USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (2000). Summary Report: 1997 National Resources Inventory (revised December 2000), Washington, D. C. & Statistical Laboratory, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa. Retrieved June 1, 2007 from http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/technical/NRI/1997/summary_report/.
  46. U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) (2006). Conservation Reserve Program Overview. Washington, D. C.: United States Department of Agriculture, Farm Service Agency Technical Publication. Retrieved September 19, 2007 from http://www.fsa.usda.gov/Internet/FSA_File/fy2005.pdf.
  47. Valiela, I., & Martinetto, P. (2007). Changes in bird abundance in eastern North America: Urban sprawl and global footprint. BioScience, 57, 360–370.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Veech, J. A. (2006). A comparison of landscape occupied by increasing and decreasing populations of grassland birds. Conservation Biology, 20, 1422–1432.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Vickery, P. D., Tubaro, P. L., Cardoso da Silva, J. M., Peterjohn, B. G., Herkert, J. R., & Cavalcanti, R. B. (1999). Conservation of grassland birds in the western hemisphere. Studies in Avian Biology, 19, 2–26.Google Scholar
  50. Weber, W. L., Roseberry, J. L., & Woolf, A. (2002). Influence of the Conservation Reserve Program on landscape structure and potential upland wildlife habitat. Wildlife Society Bulletin, 30, 888–898.Google Scholar
  51. Whittingham, M. J., Krebs, J. R., Swetnam, R. D., Vickery, J. A., Wilson, J. D., & Freckleton, R. P. (2007). Should conservation strategies consider spatial generality? Farmland birds show regional not national patterns of habitat association. Ecology Letters, 10, 25–35.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Whittingham, M. J., Stephens, P. A., Bradbury, R. B., & Freckleton, R. P. (2006). Why do we still use stepwise modelling in ecology and behaviour. Journal of Animal Ecology, 75, 1182–1189.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Yasukawa, K., & Searcy, W. A. (1995). Red-winged blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus). In A. Poole & F. Gill (Eds.), The birds of North America, No. 117. Philadelphia: The Birds of North America.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sam Riffell
    • 1
  • Daniel Scognamillo
    • 2
  • L. Wes Burger
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Wildlife & FisheriesMississippi State UniversityMississippi StateUSA
  2. 2.Arthur Temple College of Forestry & AgricultureStephen F. Austin State UniversityNacogdochesUSA

Personalised recommendations