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1 June 2011 Location and Agricultural Practices Influence Spring use of Harvested Cornfields by Cranes and Geese in Nebraska
Michael J. Anteau, Mark H. Sherfy, Andrew A. Bishop
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Abstract

Millions of ducks, geese, and sandhill cranes (Grus canadensis; hereafter cranes) stop in the Central Platte River Valley (CPRV) of Nebraska to store nutrients for migration and reproduction by consuming corn remaining in fields after harvest. We examined factors that influence use of cornfields by cranes and geese (all mid-continent species combined; e.g., Anser, Chen, and Branta spp.) because it is a key step to efficient conservation planning aimed at ensuring that adequate food resources are available to migratory birds stopping in the CPRV. Distance to night-time roost site, segment of the CPRV (west to east), and agricultural practices (post-harvest treatment of cornfields: idle, grazed, mulched, mulched and grazed, and tilled) were the most important and influential variables in our models for geese and cranes. Probability of cornfield use by geese and cranes decreased with increasing distance from the closest potential roosting site. The use of cornfields by geese increased with the density of corn present there during the early migration period, but field use by cranes appeared not to be influenced by early migration corn density. However, probability of cornfield use by cranes did increase with the amount of wet grassland habitat within 4.8 km of the field. Geese were most likely to use fields that were tilled and least likely to use fields that were mulched and grazed. Cranes were most likely to use fields that were mulched and least likely to use fields that were tilled, but grazing appeared not to influence the likelihood of field use by cranes. Geese were more likely to use cornfields in western segments of the CPRV, but cranes were more likely to use cornfields in eastern segments. Our data suggest that managers could favor crane use of fields and reduce direct competition with geese by reducing fall and spring tilling and increasing mulching. Moreover, crane conservation efforts would be most beneficial if they were focused in the eastern portions of the CPRV and in fields as close as possible to both known roosting and large amounts of wet grassland habitats.

© 2011 The Wildlife Society.†
Michael J. Anteau, Mark H. Sherfy, and Andrew A. Bishop "Location and Agricultural Practices Influence Spring use of Harvested Cornfields by Cranes and Geese in Nebraska," Journal of Wildlife Management 75(5), 1004-1011, (1 June 2011). https://doi.org/10.1002/jwmg.135
Received: 9 March 2010; Accepted: 25 October 2010; Published: 1 June 2011
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KEYWORDS
agriculture
behavior
corn
crane
food
goose
maize
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