Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department / School

Natural Resource Management

First Advisor

Patricia S. Johnson

Second Advisor

KC Jensen


Ground nesting bird species are on a considerable decline and research efforts are being made to increase these populations throughout the Great Plains. Ground nesting bird communities found in the Northern Great Plains are driven greatly by varying amounts of cover and area size. Past research implemented patch-burn grazing to increase structural heterogeneity and to increase grassland bird habitat in the tallgrass prairie. While bird populations were very responsive to this management in the Northern Great Plains fire management is viewed negatively, especially for Midwest cattle ranchers. We implemented research to determine if winter-patch grazing on mixed grass prairie could increase the structural heterogeneity of pastures and increase avian diversity similar to the patch-burn grazing. A year into our research, a large wildfire came through the main research area burning a considerable amount of the research pastures. This presented an unique opportunity to examine structural heterogeneity and avian diversity for winter patch-grazing vs. a pasture with both winter-patch and burn-patch in the Northern Great Plains. The primary avian objectives of our study post-fire were to (1) compare bird species diversity, composition, densities, and nest success, and (2) evaluate habitat structural differences. This data will allow us to compare two different management strategies in the same mixed grass prairie research site.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Bird communities -- South Dakota.
Range management -- South Dakota.
Grasslands -- South Dakota.
Prescribed burning -- South Dakota.
Grazing -- South Dakota -- Management.



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University



Rights Statement

In Copyright