EPA Science Inventory

Bird Use of Grassland Habitat Patches at a Military Airfield

Citation:

Mckinney, Rick, P. Trimble, K. Schweitzer, AND E. Kirkpatrick. Bird Use of Grassland Habitat Patches at a Military Airfield. Presented at Wilson Ornithological Society, Newport, RI, May 29 - June 01, 2014.

Description:

In light of reported declines in grassland bird populations in North America, information about their use of airfield habitats can help inform management decisions in the context of conflicting objectives of minimizing wildlife-aircraft collisions and helping to conserve grassland bird populations. We examined breeding bird use of grassland habitats within the airfield at Air Station Cape Cod, part of the Massachusetts Military Reserve in Bourne, MA. Breeding birds were surveyed annually for three years starting in 2010 using 3 minute point counts at 154 points located in 27 grassland patches within the airfield. A total of 42 bird species were detected, including seven grassland bird species. Across all patches species richness of all birds averaged 6.32 ± 0.43 species per site, and that of grassland birds averaged 2.84 ± 0.04 species per site. The mean frequency of detection for grassland birds was 0.362 ± 0.011, more than double that of all species (0.153 ± 0.009) and three times that of non-grassland species (0.111 ± 0.009). Grasshopper Sparrows Ammodramus savannarum Gmelin, a state listed threatened species, were consistently observed in larger patches or where two or more smaller patches were contiguous, but not in smaller patches or adjacent patches separated by a runway or taxiway. Our results demonstrate grassland birds are using grassland patches at the airfield, and provide insight into how species may be responding to physical constraints inherent in airfield habitats.

Purpose/Objective:

This presentation presents data on the utilization of airfield grassland habitats by breeding birds. In addition to providing information about bird use of airfield habitats to help inform management decisions, it will also provide information that could aid in urban grassland habitat restoration by providing a means to enhance their bird habitat value. Many brownfield restoration sites are maintained in an early successional state consisting primarily of grassland habitats, and insights into bird use of these habitats can help inform management decisions during restoration. For example, this study found that Grasshopper Sparrows Ammodramus savannarum Gmelin were consistently observed in larger patches or where two or more smaller patches were contiguous, but not in smaller patches or adjacent patches separated by a runway or taxiway. This result provides information about how birds use grassland patches and provides insight into how these species respond to physical constraints. This information could in turn be useful in planning brownfield or urban greenspace restorations.

URLs/Downloads:

RM_ASCC 2014_ FINAL ABSTRACT.PDF   (PDF,NA pp, 11.726 KB,  about PDF)

Record Details:

Record Type: DOCUMENT (PRESENTATION/ABSTRACT)
Completion Date: 06/26/2014
Record Last Revised: 06/26/2014
Record Created: 06/26/2014
Record Released: 06/26/2014
OMB Category: Other
Record ID: 279530

Organization:

U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY

OFFICE OF RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT

NATIONAL HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENTAL EFFECTS RESEARCH LAB

ATLANTIC ECOLOGY DIVISION

HABITATS EFFECT BRANCH