Honors College Capstone Experience/Thesis Projects

Department

Biology

Document Type

Thesis

Abstract

Grassland bird populations have been undergoing dramatic declines in the last fifty years due to loss and degradation of habitat. The Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) was initiated in the upper Green River Watershed of south-central Kentucky to improve water quality and provide wildlife habitat. Many studies have previously examined how similar programs in other states have contributed to grassland bird populations; in this study we are examining how the Kentucky CREP program is influencing bird populations, particularly grassland birds, and contributing to the conservation of these species. Bird and vegetation surveys were conducted during the summer of 2008 and the winter of 2011 and analyzed to assess the impacts of CREP native grass plantings on breeding and wintering bird populations. We found that CREP fields contained a higher species richness and abundance of birds than did fescue-dominated pasture fields in both summer and winter, and provided significantly better habitat for many species as well, including one declining species of conservation concern. This study shows that the Green River CREP program is positively contributing to grassland and generalist bird populations in Kentucky and may help to reverse population declines of a declining bird species, Henslow’s Sparrows.

Advisor(s) or Committee Chair

Albert J. Meier, Ph.D.

Disciplines

Biology

Included in

Biology Commons

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