Master's Theses

Department

Biology

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Abstract

The objectives of this study were threefold: 1) to determine whether buntings prefer cultivated areas or native grassland for nest sites; 2) to determine whether nests destroyed by agricultural practices result in renesting in "safer" habitats (such as grassland); and 3) to elucidate the life history of this species near the periphery of its breeding range. Preferred nesting habitat was milo stubble (grain sorghum), with 54 of 83 nests (65.1%), followed by native prairie (20.5%), alfalfa (8.4%), and planted grass (6.0%). Clutch size (70 nests) averaged 4.8 eggs per nest. Females did most (84.3%) of the incubation. Overall nesting success was low (20.5%), and was highest in alfalfa, followed by native prairie, milo stubble, and planted grass. Preparation of fields for planting, predation, and human disturbance were major reasons for nest failures. Productivity was highest in alfalfa, followed by milo stubble, native prairie, and planted grass. Cowbird parasitism occurred in 20.8 per cent of the nests used for analysis. Only one nest was successful and no cowbirds fledged. Parasitism rates were slightly greater in stubble than in grassland. Local abundance fell below the 7-year recorded average. Attempts to correlate abundance with precipitation totals proved inconclusive. No evidence of renesting was found.

Advisor

Charles A. Ely

Date of Award

Fall 1974

Document Type

Thesis - campus only access

Rights

© 1974 Jerry Wilson

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