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Title:Habitat selection in restored grasslands: the role of social cues in the settlement of Grasshopper Sparrows
Author(s):Andrews, John
Advisor(s):Ward, Michael P.; Brawn, Jeffrey D.
Department / Program:Natural Res & Env Sci
Discipline:Natural Res & Env Sciences
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Habitat selection
social information
Grasshopper Sparrow
Abstract:Social cues are used by many species to locate and select breeding sites. The role of social information in attracting birds to newly restored habitats is management relevant, but largely unexplored. I investigated the effect of social cues in the settlement behavior of Grasshopper Sparrows (Ammodramus savannarum) in new habitats. I played conspecific vocalizations at newly created grasslands and compared settlement rates and breeding densities at those sites to control sites, without vocalizations. A subset of sites was monitored for two years with playbacks present in the first year, but not the second, to evaluate possible “carry over” attraction. The probability of newly restored grasslands being settled was similar in treatment and control sites; however, treatment sites had over twice the densities of Grasshopper Sparrows as control sites. Densities on the treatment sites remained high the following year without conspecific playbacks. Grasshopper Sparrows can locate breeding habitat without conspecifics, but the addition of social cues increases the number of individuals that settle at a site. Manipulation of social cues as a management tool has been useful in establishing populations previously extirpated and could be potentially useful in management of grassland species. For this reason, understanding how birds use social information when selecting a habitat can be valuable for conservation efforts.
Issue Date:2014-01-16
Rights Information:Copyright 2013 John Andrews
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-01-16
Date Deposited:2013-12

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