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18 October 2021 Assessing the Impacts of Prescribed Fire and Bison Disturbance on Birds Using Bioacoustic Recorders
Heather Herakovich, Nicholas A. Barber, Holly P. Jones
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Abstract

Grassland bird responses to grazing and prescribed fire are species-specific and are primarily known from systems with cattle as the predominant grazer. There is less knowledge of how grazing by bison impacts grassland birds, especially in sites restored and reconstructed from row-crop agriculture. Working at a tallgrass prairie site consisting of restored and remnant prairie in the years following bison reintroduction and ongoing prescribed burning, we assessed overall species richness and the relative detection frequency of five focal species (Grasshopper Sparrow, Henslow's Sparrow, Dickcissel, Eastern Meadowlark, and Brown-headed Cowbird). We used stationary bioacoustics recorders to record the soundscape during the summer breeding season in areas with and without bison from 2016 to 2018. Species richness and the detection frequencies of our focal species were not influenced by bison disturbance. Grasshopper Sparrow and Dickcissel detection frequency increased slightly in response to prescribed fire, whereas Henslow's Sparrow detection frequency decreased. Time since sites were restored was a predominant factor that influenced the variation in detection frequency of Henslow's Sparrows and Eastern Meadowlarks, likely due to vegetation differences in restored versus remnant sites and each species' vegetation structure preferences. Brown-headed Cowbird detection frequency was unaffected by bison presence, prescribed fire, or time since restoration, but varied among sampling years. Our focal species showed no response to bison disturbance 4 y after the bison reintroduction. This suggests there could be a time-lag for a response or that these species will not respond to the bison reintroduction at this study site.

Heather Herakovich, Nicholas A. Barber, and Holly P. Jones "Assessing the Impacts of Prescribed Fire and Bison Disturbance on Birds Using Bioacoustic Recorders," The American Midland Naturalist 186(2), 245-262, (18 October 2021). https://doi.org/10.1674/0003-0031-186.2.245
Published: 18 October 2021
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