My dissertation focuses on breeding birds in the open-canopy habitats of the north central United States. Grassland birds across the grassland ecoregions of the U.S. share some common life history strategies shaped by natural selection within open habitats. Grassland species also exhibit important differences according to the particulars of their habitat associations. For instance, extreme weather is observed across fire-mediated landscapes in the central U.S., from the Prairie Hardwood Transition to the Badlands and Prairies, and avian communities must be able to cope with the level of weather variability inherent to their region. Avian communities of the Prairie Hardwood Transition region are adapted to a landscape with a sparse tree canopy, whereas the communities of the Eastern Tallgrass Prairie, Prairie Potholes and Badlands and Prairies regions are true grassland avian communities, with minimal varying interspersion of woody cover but varying grass height and density, with both declining from eastern to western regions. Further, prevalence and type of wetland habitat varies within these grassland regions, with a large number of wetlands in the Prairie Potholes supporting most (50 to 80%) of the continent’s breeding waterfowl populations. My goal was to characterize the responses of avian communities to weather variability, in light of known life history responses and characteristics of the habitat of regions in the central U.S. grasslands. (Abstract shortened by ProQuest.)
|Advisers||Anna M. Pidgeon; Volker C. Radeloff|
|School||THE UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN - MADISON|
|Subjects||Wildlife conservation; Wildlife management; Ecology|
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