Landscape Ecology

, Volume 30, Issue 2, pp 325–337 | Cite as

Effects of grazing and prescribed fire on resource selection and nest survival of upland sandpipers in an experimental landscape

  • Brett K. SandercockEmail author
  • Matilde Alfaro-Barrios
  • Ashley E. Casey
  • Tracey N. Johnson
  • Tony W. Mong
  • Karan J. Odom
  • Khara M. Strum
  • Virginia L. Winder
Research Article



Conservation of grassland vertebrates requires a mechanistic understanding of the effects of landscape heterogeneity on habitat selection and demographic performance.


Our goal was to investigate the effects of rangeland management on resource selection and nest survival of upland sandpipers (Bartramia longicauda).


We conducted our project at Konza Prairie, a Long-Term Ecological Research site. The station has 60 experimental units with replicated grazing and fire treatments that create a heterogeneous landscape of different habitat patches. We radio-tracked sandpipers for two breeding seasons (2003–2004, n = 37 birds) and monitored sandpiper nests for eight seasons (2001–2008, n = 246 nests). We used resource utilization functions to examine resource selection with respect to five landscape features.


Home ranges of sandpipers were large in contiguous prairie (\(\bar{x} = 8.4\;{\text{km}}^{ 2}\)) and explain area-sensitive occurrence in fragmented prairie. Upland sandpipers selected grazed and burned sites with short vegetation within their home range. In contrast, nest site selection was influenced by fire frequency and birds selected infrequently burned sites with greater vegetative structure. Settlement decisions affected fitness because nest survival was low in burned and grazed sites (0.068), but higher in unburned and ungrazed sites (0.201–0.247).


Our results raise concerns for conservation because private rangelands managed for livestock production are often homogeneous landscapes with heavy grazing and frequent fires. Rotational grazing and fire could be used to restore heterogeneity to grasslands but the duration of rotation, patch size, and optimal configuration require further investigation.


Bartramia longicauda Fire Grassland Habitat selection Home range Landscape heterogeneity Nest survival Radio-telemetry Resource utilization functions Tallgrass prairie 



We thank T. Adamson, J. Baumgardt, A. Crouse, C. Gregory, R. Lohnes, J.E. Mendoza, and K. Oberle for assistance with field work. Two anonymous reviewers provided helpful comments on previous versions of the manuscript. Financial support for this study included grants from the National Science Foundation for an REU Site program (DBI-0243890, DBI-0552930) and the Konza Prairie LTER program (DEB-0218210), and the University Small Research Grant program at Kansas State University. Investigators were supported by fellowships from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Ecological Genomics Institute, and the Division of Biology.

Supplementary material

10980_2014_133_MOESM1_ESM.docx (860 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 860 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Brett K. Sandercock
    • 1
    Email author
  • Matilde Alfaro-Barrios
    • 2
  • Ashley E. Casey
    • 1
  • Tracey N. Johnson
    • 3
  • Tony W. Mong
    • 4
  • Karan J. Odom
    • 5
  • Khara M. Strum
    • 6
  • Virginia L. Winder
    • 7
  1. 1.Division of BiologyKansas State UniversityManhattanUSA
  2. 2.Programa de Desarrollo de las Ciencias Básicas, Facultad de CienciasUniversidad de la RepúblicaMontevideoUruguay
  3. 3.Wyoming Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research UnitUniversity of WyomingLaramieUSA
  4. 4.Wyoming Fish and Game DepartmentBaggsUSA
  5. 5.Department of Biological SciencesUniversity of MarylandBaltimoreUSA
  6. 6.Point Blue Conservation SciencePetalumaUSA
  7. 7.Department of BiologyBenedictine CollegeAtchisonUSA

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