Theses and Dissertations

Advisor

Taylor, Christopher

Committee Member

Burger, Loren W.

Date of Degree

8-6-2005

Document Type

Graduate Thesis - Open Access

Major

Biological Sciences

Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.)

College

College of Arts and Sciences

Department

Department of Biological Sciences

Abstract

Dramatic alterations have occurred on agricultural landscapes throughout North America, reducing the quantities of herbaceous habitat that once dominated field margins. A concomitant decrease of grassland bird populations paralleled these modifications. Conservation buffers, in the form of field borders, are a method of habitat establishment that effectively balances wildlife and landowner needs. Recent popularity of field borders led to their establishment throughout the southeastern US despite a paucity of knowledge regarding avian response to management regimes. This research evaluated wintering and breeding avian communities, as well as nesting ecology in response to field border establishment. Results indicated that birds utilize field borders for various life history requirements. Field borders provided enhanced avian benefits over traditional farm practices; and borders of widths >10 m were superior nesting habitat than more narrow borders. Based on these results, we strongly recommend field border establishment to enhance ecosystem integrity on farm landscapes.

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