Evaluating the avian and vegetative communities on strip-mined land in Cherokee and Crawford counties


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Spring 2021


The Mined Land Wildlife Areas (MLWAs) of Southeast Kansas represent a diverse patchwork of ecosystems in varying stage of succession, including grasslands, shrublands, and forests. The goal of our study is to assess the conservation value of strip-mined land for bird communities. During our 2020 pilot season, we conducted point counts and vegetation sampling at 67 locations in Crawford and Cherokee counties. A total of 74 bird species were detected, including fourteen species of greatest conservation need, as identified in the Kansas Wildlife Action Plan. We also located and monitored 48 nests from 8 species 11 of which fledged young. In the future, we will focus our nest searching efforts on Bell’s vireos (Vireo bellii) because of its scarcity in the state of Kansas and its presence on the species of greatest conservation need list. Preliminary analyses indicate that mined land may support similar bird communities to those adjacent unmined areas. However, it remains unclear how exotic plant species that dominate some sites are affecting the bird community. Ongoing work will continue to evaluate the relationships between mined land vegetation and bird communities to inform habitat restoration on the MLWAs.


Category A - Award recipient

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