Department of Biology
Master of Science
Much of the area that is now west-central Kentucky historically existed as grass dominated ecosystems. Unfortunately, most of those grasslands are gone due mostly to disturbance suppression and conversion to agricultural lands. Federal, state, and nongovernmental agencies have, particularly within the last several decades, undertaken the responsibility and goal of preserving and attempting to restore many of North America's lost grasslands. The USDA in conjunction with local landowners has initiated the CRP (Conservation Reserve Program) and the CREP (Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program); two popular farm bill-based conservation programs. Among the many conservation practices that these programs fund is grassland restoration. The goal of this project is to restore multiple areas using widely applicable restoration techniques and to assess the impact that three of the most commonly used CRP and CREP plant mixes will have on prairie voles (Microtus ochrogaster) populations. Small mammal trapping will be used to assess crucial variables such as recruitment, population density, body mass, survival, habitat choice, and home range will be measured to quantify the relative success of small mammals with respect to each plant mixture. Results from this study showed that certain small mammals, particularly prairie voles, were more successful in habitats that had a higher proportion of grasses relative to forbs. These results are consistent with the habitat and dietary preferences reported in the literature for prairie voles.
Clark, Jestin, "The Effects of USDA Farm-Bill Restoration Programs on Prairie Voles (microtus ochrogaster) in the Barrens Region of Kentucky" (2005). Masters Theses & Specialist Projects. Paper 492.