Smith Fellows
Smith Fellow


Although large tracts of native grassland remain in the Northern Great Plains, many continue to be at lost at an alarming rate. Conservation planning is fundamental to effective delivery of programs designed to maintain functional grassland landscapes. Our primary objective is to develop spatially-explicit planning tools that depict susceptibility (i.e. risk) of individual grasslands to conversion using satellite imagery and GIS to evaluate spatial and temporal trends in grassland tillage. These planning tools will allow the relative risk of grassland conversion to be predicted and can be used to develop effective grassland conservation programs to protect the tracts at highest risk. We also propose to construct landscape/habitat models of shorebird nesting success that depict priority grassland landscapes for breeding shorebirds of management concern. Finally, models of shorebird reproductive success along with similar existing models for other grassland bird taxa can be combined with risk model to evaluate impacts of tillage for a suite of grassland nesting birds. A refined understanding of functional grassland landscapes will allow conservation partners to effectively target and efficiently spend funds that ensure the future of healthy prairie landscapes.