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Title:Avian breeding ecology in soybean fields: does no-till provide any benefits?
Author(s):VanBeek, Kelly
Advisor(s):Ward, Michael P.
Department / Program:Natural Res & Env Sci
Discipline:Natural Res & Env Sciences
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
nesting ecology
avian communities
tillage practices
Abstract:Approximately 71% of land cover in the Midwest is in agriculture production, with row crops being the most prevalent. Most row crops have replaced grasslands, resulting in declines of their constituent bird communities. Previous research has shown that tillage regimes can affect the suitability of row crop fields as wildlife habitat. Originally created as a soil conservation measure, use of no-till agriculture is increasing in areas of intensive row crop production. Nonetheless, it is not yet clear whether this practice benefits wildlife compared to conventional tillage methods and whether bird production in row crop fields can contribute to regional bird populations. I compared the nesting success and avian communities in tilled and no-till soybean fields. I found significantly higher densities of birds in no-till fields than tilled fields but no differences in avian communities. Of the 114 nests found, 99 were in no-till soybean fields with only 15 nests in tilled fields. Nest densities were significantly greater in no-till fields than tilled fields. The most common nesting species were American Robins (Turdus migratorius), Mourning Doves (Zenaida macroura), and Vesper Sparrows (Pooecetes gramineus). Overall nest success estimated from daily survival rates was 18.2%. Predation was the main cause of nest failure, but 25.6% of all failures were caused by farm machinery. Variation in nest success was primarily explained by nest stage and date, and success did not differ between no-till and tilled fields. In summary, birds prefer no-till fields to tilled fields for nesting, but nest success did not differ between tilled and no-till fields. While the nesting success of birds is low in row crops, the large amount of acreage in row crops dictates that we understand its contribution to the population of certain species.
Issue Date:2013-02-03
Rights Information:Copyright 2012 Kelly VanBeek
Date Available in IDEALS:2013-02-03
Date Deposited:2012-12

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