Habitat characteristics influencing resident and over-wintering grassland birds on the dry prairie of south-central Florida
Butler, Adam Brooks
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Grassland birds have declined for nearly 4 decades, likely because of continual fragmentation and degradation of grassland ecosystems. Relative to other systems, little attention has been given to these issues on the dry prairie of Florida. This ecosystem is home to several species of concern and also serves as over-wintering grounds for a number of the continent’s short-distance migrants. I investigated the relationship between habitat and patch size on 2 breeding birds of the dry prairie: Bachman’s sparrows (Aimophila aestivalis) and Eastern meadowlarks (Sturnella magna). I also evaluated burning regime and habitat effects on 2 migrants: grasshopper sparrows (Ammodramus savannarum p.) and sedge wrens (Cistothorus platensis). Response to patch size differed between the breeding species, yet each preferred habitat conditions that were a result of long-term frequent fire. The 2 wintering species responded most significantly to the short-term effects of fire, although their preference of burn intervals differed.