Master's Theses



Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Various grassland bird species have exhibited population declines over the past 60 years. Recent interest in understanding the causes for the decline in grassland birds has prompted numerous research studies. Several studies have focused on changes in agricultural practices, such as the use of non-native grasses for re-vegetation. The objective of my study was to determine the effects a non-native grass. Old World Bluestem (OWB; Bothriochloa ischaemum; i.e., WW-Spar and WW-Iron Master) might have on bird species abundance, richness, and food availability. Three pastures each of native range, expired Conservation Reserve Program, and OWB were sampled from May - July 2001 in Comanche County, KS. I used a point-count method along three sample transects in each pasture to assess bird abundance and species richness. Additionally, arthropods were collected along 10 transects in each pasture using a sweep-net. The results indicated significant differences in bird abundance and species richness among the pastures. However, I could not determine which pastures differed from each other in bird abundance and species richness and, therefore cannot conclude that OWB pastures were unfavorable to grassland birds. Significant differences were found in arthropod biomass where OWB pastures had significantly less biomass than the other pasture types. I conclude that lower arthropod biomass or food availability to nesting grassland birds might limit reproductive success in OWB pastures relative to CRP and native pastures and potentially contribute to their decline.


Karen Hickman

Date of Award

Spring 2002

Document Type

Thesis - campus only access


© 2002 Jan Steier


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