Advisor: Dr. Mike Eichholz
Grassland birds represent the most rapidly-declining bird guild in North America, due in large part to habitat loss from the spread of agriculture and urban areas. The little amount of tallgrass prairie left in the United States needs to be actively managed in order to remain viable habitat for birds and other grassland-obligate species. Common management practices include prescribed burning, disking, and cattle grazing in order to prevent the encroachment of trees and shrubs, and maintain the heterogenous vegetation structure that is vital for a healthy grassland ecosystem.
My research involves investigating grassland community responses to different management practices in the context of varying environmental factors, such as patch size, interior-to-edge ration, and surrounding habitat type. We will use this information to identify the biotic mechanisms through which management actions influence grassland bird productivity.