Master's Theses



Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


North American grassland declines and increasing changes in land use patterns have revived the importance of studying grasslands and their inhabitants. Grassland breeding bird populations are declining rapidly, and conservation efforts are ramping up. Smoky Valley Ranch (SVR) owned by The Nature Conservancy (TNC) is in Logan County, Kansas. Surrounding private land is characteristically comprised of row crops, livestock agriculture, Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), and a few patches of native and restored prairie. The study of obligate grassland birds utilizing this area during the breeding season is essential to the proliferation of grassland bird nesting habitat in western, Kansas. The goal of this study is to characterize species specific abundance based on visual obstruction readings and prairie dog occurrence. Additional covariates such as wind speed, grazing rest, minutes since sunrise, and visual obstruction are measured against detection probability when detection key function is not “uniform.” Data was collected using hierarchical distance sampling (HDS) methods to aid in alleviating nondetection bias in point counts. Data collection was collected through 60-point count stations and 300 Robel points, measuring avian abundance, and visual obstruction, respectively. This study bolsters the knowledge base of grassland nesting birds and their habitat usage during the breeding season in western, Kansas. With climate change concerns rising, knowledge of obligate grassland birds and their habitat preferences is an essential aspect of land management in the short to mixed grass prairie.


Dr. Medhavi Ambardar

Date of Award

Summer 2023

Document Type



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