This study was conducted to determine landscape and fine-scale vegetative variables associated with breeding Loggerhead Shrikes (Lanius ludovicianus) on Fort Riley Military Reservation, Kansas. Because Fort Riley is an Army training site, the influences of training disturbance to the vegetation, and range management practices on bird habitat patterns were also investigated. Breeding birds were surveyed in 1995 and 1996 using point counts. Survey plots were identified, a priori, at the landscape scale as either grassland, savannah, or woodland edge according to cover by woody vegetation. In 1996, fine-scale habitat at survey points and at bird use sites was measured and a principal components analysis used to characterize the fine-scale herbaceous vegetation structure. A military disturbance index was developed to quantify the severity of vehicle disturbance to the vegetation at survey and bird use sites. Shrikes were associated with savannah habitat at the landscape scale. Sites used by Loggerhead Shrikes were characterized at the fine-scale by tall, sparse, structurally heterogeneous herbaceous vegetation with high standing dead plant cover and low litter cover. At the fine-scale, tree and shrub density did not differ between sites used and not used by shrikes. Used sites did not differ from survey sites with respect to military training disturbance, hay harvest, or the number of years since a site was last burned. Our results in this study suggest that the shifting mosaic of vegetation on Fort Riley resulting from training and range management practices maintains adequate habitat for breeding shrikes.
Additional publication details
Landscape and fine scale habitat associations of the Loggerhead Shrike