biomass, switchgrass, avian community, birds, harvest, winter, Conservation Reserve Program
As Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) contracts expire, many fields may be returned to agricultural production. Growing switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) as a biomass fuel is an alternative to returning fields to rowcrops. CRP fields provide winter cover for birds, but the harvest of biomass would remove most of the cover and affect bird use of the fields. We estimated winter bird abundances in nonharvested, total-harvested, and partially (strip) harvested switchgrass fields in southern Iowa. Song sparrows (Melospiza melodia) were observed only in strip-harvested fields and ring-necked pheasants (Phasianus colchicus) were observed only in nonharvested fields and uncut areas of strip-harvested fields. American tree sparrows (Spizella arborea) were observed in all three treatments, but abundances were not significantly different among treatments. Tree sparrows, however, were observed more often in uncut strips of strip-harvested fields than in cut strips, with 87% of observations in strip-harvested fields in uncut strips. Abundances in strip-harvested fields were in general higher than abundances in rowcrop and CRP plantings in other studies. Strip-harvested switchgrass fields may be more beneficial in winter than total-harvested fields, rowcrop, or idle CRP fields for some bird species.
Journal of the Iowa Academy of Science
© Copyright 2007 by the Iowa Academy of Science, Inc.
Murray, Les D. and Best, Louis B.
"Winter Bird Use of Conservation Reserve Program Fields Harvested for Biomass,"
The Journal of the Iowa Academy of Science: JIAS: Vol. 113:
, Article 5.
Available at: http://scholarworks.uni.edu/jias/vol113/iss1/5