Derek R. Malone

Derek R. Malone, MS
Texas Tech University
Major Adivsor: Clint W. Boal, Ph.D
Avian Community Response to Prairie Restoration on the Welder Refuge

Grassland-obligate birds are experiencing declines across North America, including the coastal prairies, which have undergone an extreme reduction in size. We have been monitoring avian and vegetation communities in control (216-ha) and treatment (144-ha) plots to evaluate their responses to prairie restoration efforts. We are assessing how brush management by application of herbicide to a 144-ha treatment plot in 2014, and a follow-up summer burn in 2019, will influence avian and vegetation communities. We are also focusing research on the Greater Roadrunner (Geococcyx californianus), an understudied but charismatic species, that requires a combination of open areas for foraging and brush for perches and nesting locations. We are comparing the home range sizes and habitat selection of roadrunners between our study plots, as well as the refuge as a whole. We captured and outfitted 18 roadrunners with VHF backpack style transmitters from 2018–2019. Analysis of home range size and habitat use are currently underway. Our goal is to understand how prairie restoration efforts can contribute toward grassland bird community recovery, while also accounting for species, such as the roadrunner, that require a more heterogeneous vegetation community.

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