Henslow's Sparrows (Ammodramus henslowii) are distributed in tallgrass prairies in central North America; however, this species is restricted further to specific habitats within these prairies—large expanses with relatively little woody vegetation but an accumulation of standing grasses and forbs, conditions that result from infrequent disturbances by fire, mowing, or grazing. Henslow's Sparrows have been documented to be unpredictable at breeding sites from year to year, but studies to date have considered only local spatial scales. We compared resettlement behavior (prevalence of occurrence and variation in abundance) of Henslow's Sparrows to that of two other grassland sparrows, Grasshopper Sparrows (A. savannarum) and Savannah Sparrows (Passerculus sandwichensis), across multiple spatial resolutions. In Henslow's Sparrows, prevalence was lower and variation in abundance was greater than in the other two species. Indeed, Henslow's Sparrows do not occur consistently at extents of less than 120 000 km2, suggesting nomadic characteristics of where they breed from year to year. We suggest that these patterns reflect Henslow's Sparrows' responses to frequently changing habitat, such that this species is tracking spatiotemporal changes in optimal habitat that result from disturbances broadly across regional landscapes.
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Vol. 115 • No. 1