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Larry Allain Lowres

Larry Allain Lowres

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Published by: Jaime Gonzalez on Nov 29, 2011
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Factors  Affec,ng  Habitat  Quality   in  Small  Scale     Grassland  Plan,ngs  

Larry  Allain   Na+onal  Wetlands  Research  Center   Lafaye7e,  Louisiana  

Purposes of small prairie plantings

•  •  •  • 

Aesthetics Education Preservation of plant species and their genetic variation Attracting wildlife (animals)

Area and quality of grassland habitat is rapidly declining Grassland animal species are declining faster than those of any other habitat type.
BREEDING BIRD SURVEY (FWS REGION 4) 1966-2000

50 45 40 35 30 25 20 15 10 5 0

6 5 4 3 2 1 0

Northern Bobwhite

Loggerhead Shrike

Grassland plantings at schools, businesses and homes can contribute to prairie plant conservation but their value as animal habitat varies.

Animal  Habitat    
Factors  effec+ng  habitat    quality:   Scale   Animal  groups:   Heterogeneity   Rep+les   Community  Structure   Amphibians   Landscape  posi+on   Birds   Diversity   Mammals   Species  makeup   Insects  and  other  invertebrates   Water   Nes+ng  areas   Pes+cide  levels   Case  studies:   Na+onal  Wetland  Research  Center   Lafaye7e  Elementary  School   White  Lake   Gueydan  Restora+on  

Factors  Effec+ng  Habitat    Quality  

>  10,000  acres  

single  large  

several  small  

Factors  Effec+ng  Habitat    Quality  

•  Random extinctions increases as area decreases •  More small locations provide more variation in environmental conditions •  Ecosystem function is often scale related (prairie chicken and bison)

>  10,000  acres  

single  large  

several  small  

Factors  Effec+ng  Habitat    Quality   Homo/Heterogeneity  

Factors  Effec+ng  Habitat    Quality   Homo/Heterogeneity  

Factors  Effec+ng  Habitat    Quality   Homo/Heterogeneity  

Factors  Effec+ng  Habitat    Quality   Homo/Heterogeneity  
Habitat variation provides more opportunities for animals

Factors  Effec+ng     Habitat    Quality   Landscape  posi+on  

Mermentau Elementary

Midland High School

Lafayette Middle School

Factors  Effec+ng     Habitat    Quality   Landscape  posi+on  
Butterfly abundance and diversity was negatively correlated with development within a 1 km radius (Davros et al. 2006).

Mermentau Elementary

Midland High School

Lafayette Middle School

Factors  Effec+ng     Habitat    Quality   Landscape  posi+on  
Percent woody cover in the landscape was an important variable explaining species abundance (Davros et al. 2006). Mermentau Elementary

Midland High School

Lafayette Middle School

Factors  Effec+ng  Habitat    Quality   Community  Structure  
Density

Factors  Effec+ng  Habitat    Quality   Community  Structure  
Density Height

Factors  Effec+ng  Habitat    Quality   Community  Structure  
Density Height Plant architecture

Factors  Effec+ng  Habitat    Quality   Community  Structure  
Density Height Plant architecture Herbaceous/wood

Factors  Effec+ng  Habitat    Quality   Plant  species  richness  
More plant species provide more opportunities for animals

Factors  Effec+ng  Habitat    Quality   Species  “guilds”  or  “func+onal  groups”  
•  •  •  •  •  •  Foliage (Larval host plants) Pollen-nectar (flower types and phenology) Legumes (nitrogen fixing) Warm/cool season forbs and grasses Vines/shrubs/sedges Deep/shallow rooted

Factors  Effec+ng  Habitat    Quality   Water  

Factors  Effec+ng  Habitat    Quality   Nes+ng  places  

Factors  Effec+ng  Habitat    Quality   Protec+on  from  predators  

Factors  Effec+ng  Habitat    Quality   Freedom  from  pes+cides  

Factors  Effec+ng  Amphibians   Water  
Frogs and toads are found near water.

Toads prefer patches of bare ground where they can burrow.

Leopard frogs prefer ephemeral ponds

Tree frogs like tall vertical structure where they can climb.

Factors  Effec+ng  Rep+les   Community  Structure  
Tall vegetation for cover Prey - insects, frogs, small mammals, and other snakes.

Factors  Effec+ng  Birds  

White Lake

Factors  Effec+ng  Birds  

National Wetland Research Center

Factors  Effec+ng  Birds  

National Wetland Research Center

Factors  Effec+ng  Birds   Landscape  posi+on  
Ag fields, old fields and other grasslands with no trees- morning dove, Northern
bobwhite, savannah sparrow, sedge wren, eastern kingbird, scissortail flycatcher , eastern meadowlarks, redwing blackbirds, swamp sparrow, Le Conte’s sparrow, dickcissel

Savanna or grassland with woody brush – dickcissels, northern bobwhite,
eastern kingbird, eastern bluebird, cedar waxwings, Indigo buntings

Grassland areas near forest – Northern bobwhite, common nighthawk, cardinal,
blue jay, American robins

Wooded suburburban gardens – Ruby throated hummingbird, redheaded
woodpecker, blue jay, American robins, brown thrashers, European starlings, cardinals, Indigo buntings, house sparrows

Forests – Downey woodpecker, tufted titmouse, red-eyed vireo, prothonotary warbler,
yellow-rumped warbler

Factors  Effec+ng  Birds   Landscape  posi+on  

Red-winged Blackbird

Gueydan Restoration

Factors  Effec+ng  Birds   Scale/Landscape  posi+on  
*
Sedge Wren Savannah Sparrow

*

Le Conte’s Sparrow

Swamp Sparrow

Eastern Meadowlark

Gueydan Restoration

Dickcissel

*

Priority Species

Factors  Effec+ng  Birds  
Raptors

Scale/Landscape  posi+on  

Gueydan Restoration

Community Structure (Density)
40

Savannah Sparrow *
% presence

40 30 20 10 0

Le Conte’s Sparrow *

% presence

30 20 10 0 low med high

low

medium

high

40

Sedge Wren *
% presence

40 30 20 10 0

Swamp Sparrow

% presence

30 20 10 0 low medium high

low

medium

high

Factors  Effec+ng  Birds   Landscape  posi+on  

Loggerhead Shrike

National Wetlands Research Center

Factors  Effec+ng  Birds  

This also serves as an adaptation to eating the toxic lubber grasshopper. The toxins degrade in 1–2 days and can then be eaten. Lubber grasshopper

Factors  Effec+ng  Birds  

Killdeer

Factors  Effec+ng  Birds   Scale/Landscape  posi+on  
Eastern Bluebird

Mocking bird

Center for Ecological and Environmental Technology

Common Night hawk

Factors  Effec+ng  Mammals  

Can be found in nearly all habitat but most abundant near water. Often travel in drainages. Nests in tree hollows or old animal burrows in the ground. Omnivorous and opportunistic. Common Raccoon

Found in woodlands, savannas, and forest edges. Eats mostly insects but also consumes fruits, mushrooms, eggs of ground nesting birds. Root in the ground and can do substantial damage to small prairie plantings. Nine Banded Armadillo

Factors  Effec+ng  Mammals  
Lives in forests, forest edges, and grasslands. Nests in slanted holes in ground. Nocturnal. Eat forbs and grasses in warm weather and twigs and tree bark in winter. Don’t need a water source. An upland species unlike the Swamp Rabbit. Cottontail Rabbit

Lives in forests or forest edges near water. Nest in abandoned burrows, brush piles, hollow logs and under buildings. Eat invertebrates, fruits, eggs, and small vertebrates. Also scavenge carrion. Opossum

Factors  Effec+ng  Mammals  

Common in grassy areas. Eat primarily seeds and plant parts but also consume invertebrates, small vertebrates, and bird eggs. Nest in balls of leaves in burrows or in dense vegetation.

Hispid Cotton Rat

Common in grassland bordering water and are good swimmers. Eat seeds and plant parts, insects, snails, and other animal material. Nest in round balls of leaves in dense vegetation. Marsh Rat

Factors  Effec+ng  Mammals  

Found in open habitat and urban areas. Opportunistic omnivorous predators that eat invertebrates, small mammals, birds and eggs, fruits and other vegetable matter. Often nest under buildings. Striped skunk

Common in upland grasslands. Nests in burrows, fallen logs, or refuse. Eats earthworms, spiders, centipedes, slugs, snails and a variety of plant material. Eaten by owls, hawks, snakes and skunks. Least shrew

Factors  Effec+ng  Mammals  

Common in both forests and grasslands. Eat insects, rodents, rabbits, birds, domestic poultry, numerous fruits (including watermelons) and grasses. Also scavenge carrion. Nest in a variety of places. Coyote

Other mammals: Southern short-tailed shrew, least shrew, eastern mole, Baird’s pocket gopher, fulvous harvest mouse, eastern harvest mouse, field mouse, cotton mouse, wood rat, red fox, gray fox, long tailed weasel, mink, prairie vole

Factors  Effec+ng  Insects  
Insects – most important animals in small plantings?

•  •  •  • 

Most abundant Most diverse group of living things Available for education purposes Provide essential ecosystem services

Factors  Effec+ng  Insects  
Insects – most important animals in small plantings? Essential ecosystem services: •  Food •  Population control and habitat structure •  Predation •  Pollination •  Soil biota •  Decomposers •  Unknown ecosystem services

Insects  –  food  for  other  classes  of  animals  
Quarternary Consumer 1 Kg

Tertiary Consumer

10 Kg

Secondary Consumer

100 Kg

Primary Consumer

1000 Kg

Producers

10,000 Kg

Insects  –  food  for  other  classes  of  animals  
Quarternary Consumer Decomposers are often ignored 1 Kg

Tertiary Consumer

10 Kg

Secondary Consumer

100 Kg

Primary Consumer

1000 Kg

Producers

10,000 Kg

Insects  –  control  habitat  structure  

Gulf Fritillary

Insects  –  control  habitat  structure  
Baccharis beetle larvae help control Baccharis in Coastal Prairie Insecticides that kill Baccharis beetles may be contributing to an invasion of Baccharis in ranch lands.

Insects  –  control  popula+ons  

Assassin bug eating fly Stick mantid eating love bug

Lady beetle eating aphids

Insects  –  control  popula+ons  

Differential grasshopper Major crop pest in Midwest

Red-legged Grasshopper most commonly in Southeastern US

American Bird Grasshopper

Major food source for overwintering neotropical migrants

Insects  –  pollinate  plants
Why care about pollinators? •  Value of insect-pollinate crops in US = $18 - $27 billion •  Plants with showy flowers are insect pollinated (goldenrod/ragweed) •  No pollinators – no seeds

Factors  Effec+ng  Insects  
Plant a diversity of insect pollinated plants

Factors  Effec+ng  Insects  
Flowering  Phenology    
(Louisiana  Coastal  Prairie)  

Factors  Effec+ng  Insects  
Plant species in clusters (Heterogeneous)

Factors  Effec+ng  Insects  
Provide water

Factors  Effec+ng  Insects  
Provide  a  place  to  nest     Dead  wood     Bare  ground   Constructed  nes+ng  sites   Shelter  (windbreak)  

Most  bees  only  move  a  short  distance  from   their  nes+ng  spot

Crea+ng  Habitat  For  Insects  
Avoid pesticides

Factors  Effec+ng  Habitat  Quality   Conclusions  
•  •  •  •  Keep ecological principles in mind when designing a planting Make attracting insects a priority Ensure no insecticides are used in and around Educate those exposed to plantings about the importance of bugs, rats, and weedy looking prairies

Factors  Effec+ng  Habitat  Quality   Conclusions  
•  •  •  •  Keep ecological principles in mind when designing a planting Make attracting insects a priority Ensure no insecticides are used in and around Educate those exposed to plantings about the importance of bugs, rats, and weedy looking prairies

If you build it they will come

Examples of plants with long bloom period

Gaillardia aestivalis

Silphium gracile Chamaecrista fasciculata Solidago sp.

Ruellia humilis Liatris pychnostachya Asclepias viridis Hyptis alata

Examples of “super attractant plants”

Gaillardia aestivalis

Silphium gracile

Eryngium yuccifolium Solidago sp.

Liatris pychnostachya Monarda fistulosa Symphyotrichum praealtum

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