PRAIRIE WILDLIFE IS OFTEN THE SETTING FOR RESEARCH
Conservation Buffers Program Benefits Grassland Birds
A plume of dust rises behind the truck as Jimmy Bryan tours his northeast Mississippi farm with a wildlife biologist. The sound of cattle bellowing can be heard from his feedlot more than two miles to the south. Already this morning, he has been on the phone with his stockyard in Nebraska, sold cattle, moved cattle among pastures, and loaded an 18-wheeler with stock headed for a sale. Later this morning, his crop consultant will drop by to discuss next year’s crop rotation. Mr. Bryan is serious about farming, and has built a very successful row crop and cattle operation, but he is also passionate about birds and is working hard to restore native prairie communities and bird life on his 5,000-acre farm in Clay County, Mississippi. During the past two years, working with Mississippi State University and Wildlife Mississippi ( www.wildlifemiss.org ), he has converted more than 400 acres of former cropland and exotic grass pasture to native prairie grasses, legumes, and wildflowers. A new conservation practice under the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), called CP33–Habitat Buffers for Upland Birds, helps farmers like Mr. Bryan achieve their conservation and economic goals. CP33 provides economic incentives for farmers to create early successional native grass buffers (30-120 feet wide) around edges of crop fields to benefit upland wildlife such as bobwhite.
Wildlife biologists call this practice Bobwhite Buffers because of its demonstrated success in restoring bobwhite populations on working agricultural landscapes. Research projects in North Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi, and Missouri have demonstrated that converting as little as 5-10% of cropland to native herbaceous buffers can increase local bobwhite populations by 70-200%. Some grassland birds, including neotropical species such as Dickcissel and Indigo Bunting, also occur in these buffers. Other species which benefit include Savannah, Swamp, and Henslow’s Sparrows.
In modern agricultural landscapes, wildlife habitat is no longer an accidental by-product of cropping practices, but instead must be intentionally created. This means farmers often have to decide between the personal costs of lost crops and the more intangible societal benefits of conservation. Programs such CP33 are a win-win solution for farmers such as Jimmy Bryan who need to meet their economic needs, yet also wish to be good environmental stewards.
Publications about research conducted in part or whole on Prairie Wildlife
“Prairie Wildlife has been an invaluable research partner with Mississippi State University. This working landscape has served as an outdoor laboratory for at least 12 different research projects. These studies have advanced our understanding of wildlife response to conservation practices, influenced conservation technology transfer, and helped to refine conservation policy.” L. Wes Burger, Professor of Wildlife Ecology
- CP33 National Monitoring Report 2006 – 2008
- CP33 Mississippi Monitoring Report 2006 – 2008
- Evaluating Pre-Emergence Herbicides for Establishing Native Grasses and Forbs
- Estimating Sample Size for Fall Covey Counts
- Response of Bobwhite to Field Border Management
- Economics of Agricultural Field Borders MAFES Bulletin
- Bobwhite Populations in the Southeast: What can we expect from habitat management
- Conservation Buffers and Grassland Birds – Bird Conservation Winter 2006/2007
- Successful Wildlife Management on a Working Farm – Wildlife Trends July/August 2007
- Creating Early Successional Habitat Through Federal Farm Bill Programs, NRCS Technical Note
- Conservation Buffers: Wildlife Benefits in Southeastern Agricultural Systems, FWRC Research Advance
- Grassland bird response to agricultural field borders. Forest and Wildlife Research Center, Mississippi State University, Research Advance 8(2):4 pp
- Use of imprinted northern bobwhite chicks to assess habitat-specific arthropod availability. Wildlife Society Bulletin 33:596-605
- Breeding Bird Abundance and Diversity in Agricultural Field Borders in the Black Belt Prairie of Mississippi. Proceedings of the Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies 59:43-56
- Density and diversity of overwintering birds in managed field borders in Mississippi. Wilson Bulletin 117:258-269.
- Multi-resolution approach to wildlife habitat modeling using remotely sensed imagery. Proceedings of the Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE) 48th Annual Meeting 5131:31-43.
- General Wildlife Habitat Management Practices Being Implemented on Prairie Wildlife
- Bobwhite management on a small property: a case study Wildlife Trends Sept/Oct 2008
- Ecology and Management of Northern Bobwhite
- Native Warm-season Grass Establishment and Restoration in Mississippi
- Supplemental Food and Cover Management for Bobwhite in Mississippi
- Conservation Reserve Program Mid-contract Management
- Creating Wildlife Habitat Through Federal Farm Programs: An Objective-driven Approach, Wildlife Society Bulletin
- The Role of Farm Policy in Achieving Large-Scale Conservation: Bobwhite and Buffers. Wildlife Society Bulletin
- Prescribed Burning Safely and Legally, Wildlife Trends
- Regional planning and prioritization of northern bobwhite habitat restoration in the Southeastern Coastal Plain Bird Conservation Region. Forest and Wildlife Research Center brochure,
- Planning and prioritization of northern bobwhite habitat restoration in Mississippi. Forest and Wildlife Research Center brochure.
- Pine forestland habitat management for wildlife. Forest and Wildlife Research Center brochure.
- Effects of herbaceous field borders on farmland birds in the Mississippi Alluvial Valley. USDA-NRCS-AWCC Technical Note no. 190-51
- The Conservation Reserve Program in the Southeast: issues affecting wildlife habitat value. Pages 63 – 92 in J. B. Haufler, ed. Fish and wildlife benefits of Farm Bill conservation programs: 2000-2005 update. The Wildlife Society Technical Review 05-2.
- Light disking to enhance early successional wildlife habitat in grasslands and old-fields: Wildlife benefits and erosion potential. USDA-NRCS Technical Note,
- The Conservation Reserve Program in the Southeast: Issues Affecting Wildlife Habitat Value. Pgs. 135-141 in A.W. Allen and M.W. Vandever, eds. The Conservation Reserve Program: Planting for the Future: Proceedings of a National Conference, Fort Collins CO, June 6-9, 2004. Biological Science Report, USGS/BRD/BSR–2006-5145
- Conservation buffers. Wildlife Trends 5:(2)1-7.
- Effects of burning and discing Conservation Reserve Program fields to improve habitat quality for northern bobwhite. American Midland Naturalist 149:344-353.
- Quail management: Issues, concerns, and solutions for public and private lands – a southeastern perspective. In: Proc., National Quail Symposium 5:231-245