Entries in grassland birds (1)


How does patch burn grazing affect bird diversity in highly-fragmented landscapes?

The management treatments used in this study were motivated by research that has shown an increase in the population size and diversity of grassland bird species when a fire-grazing interaction is used in the western tallgrass prairie. The research team compared three management strategies and their effect on grassland bird species richness and density in fragmented landscapes.


For a summary of the study's results and implications for management, you can view or download a PDF version of "Using fire and grazing to promote bird diversity."

Management Implications 

  • Patch-burn grazing may effectively create variable forage height and maturity that can benefit grassland bird species though stocking rates must be carefully determined to ensure sufficient residual biomass
  • The necessary low stocking rate makes this approach more appropriate on public lands and private recreational lands where profit from livestock is not the main driver
  • Grassland bird response to management of grassland structure may remain limited due to factors in the surrounding landscape

The original paper was published in the open access journal Ecosphere.

Finn C. Pillsbury, James R. Miller, Diane M. Debinski, and David M. Engle. 2011. Another tool in the toolbox? Using fire and grazing to promote bird diversity in highly fragmented landscapes. Ecosphere 2(3): article 28.