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Associations of wintering birds with habitat in semidesert and plains grasslands in Arizona

June 1, 2014

We studied associations with winter habitat for seven species of birds, one species-group (eastern and western meadowlarks combined), and total sparrows at seven sites in the semidesert and plains grasslands of southeastern Arizona from 1999–2001, sampling with mist-nets and survey-transects. We measured structure and composition of vegetation, assessing vegetative differences among sites, and modeled associations between indices of avian abundance and six vegetative variables using generalized linear models. For all vegetative variables, there were significant differences among sites. Numbers of northern harriers (Circus cyaneus) were positively associated with total number of sparrows. Indices of abundance for individual species of birds were statistically correlated with various measures of structure and composition of vegetation. In particular, grasshopper (Ammodramus savannarum) and vesper (Pooecetes gramineus) sparrows were negatively associated with amount of bare ground; horned larks (Eremophila alpestris) were negatively associated with vertical grass density; Baird's sparrows (A. bairdii) were negatively associated with shrub density; meadowlarks (Sturnella magna and S. neglecta combined) were positively associated with native grass. Our results suggest that these species would benefit from management of habitat that affects the vegetative characteristics associated with their abundance.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2014
Title Associations of wintering birds with habitat in semidesert and plains grasslands in Arizona
DOI 10.1894/F07-GDS-13.1
Authors Janet M. Ruth, Thomas R. Stanley, Caleb E. Gordon
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Southwestern Naturalist
Index ID 70142623
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Fort Collins Science Center