Within the lesser prairie-chicken’s range, predatory birds are more abundant in prairie grasslands with mesquite cover than in open grasslands. Photo courtesy of New Mexico State University.
For many, one of the New Year’s first big chores is to remove a tree from inside their home. Trees, beautiful and useful as they are, do not belong everywhere. Such is the case with trees and other woody species that are expanding into the Western grasslands.
Over the years, woody species like juniper, pinyon pine, redcedar and mesquite have encroached on grassland and sagebrush ecosystems, altering these landscapes and making them unsuitable for native wildlife like the lesser prairie-chicken and greater sage-grouse. Encroaching conifers also degrade rangelands for agricultural producers whose livestock rely on nutritious forage. Read more »
Pronghorn are able to return to brush controlled grasslands in Northern Arizona that were previously dominated by invasive-woody brush. Photo: Steve Cassady.
A popular new year’s resolution is to de-clutter our homes. But what if a clutter-free home was the only way you could survive and thrive?
Across Arizona, there is wildlife living in grasslands impacted by poorly-planned fencing and woody invasive brush. Invasive plant species, such as pinion juniper and mesquite that grow and spread quickly, create obstacles in grassland habitats that make it difficult for pronghorn and other migratory, grassland-dependent species to avoid predators.
Further, these invasives crowd out native grasses that provide food for wildlife and livestock, reduce soil erosion and help soil absorb precipitation, which is vital to replenishing supplies of groundwater and improving water quality. Read more »
Cerulean warblers spend part of the year in the Appalachian Mountains of North America as well as the Andes Mountains of South America. Photo by DJ McNeil.
What do biologists look for in a healthy forest? A diversity in the ages and composition of trees and occasional breaks in canopy to allow sunlight to reach understory plants. Healthy forests, just like healthy human populations, are sustained by a diversity of ages. Each group has a role to play in maintaining the whole community over the long term.
But healthy, diverse forests are on the decline across the eastern United States. A lack of natural and human-induced disturbances because of fire suppression and certain timber harvest methods have led the forested landscape to become largely homogenous. Read more »
12 Gifts of Conservation graphic. Created by: Jenn Cole
Holidays are a time to enjoy the warm comforts of home and family. A time to reflect and give thanks for life’s blessings. This month, we’re going to highlight important gifts given to us when we conserve natural resources: soil, food, plants, wildlife, people, health, protection, recreation, air, water, technology and future.
Unlike a single wrapped present, conservation is a gift to the whole world, and to the future. Each breath of air, sip of water and bite of food you will ever take, exists because of it. Were the world not continuously renewed, it would soon be consumed and barren. Conservation is the gift that keeps on giving. Read more »
The red-cockaded woodpecker is an at-risk species under pressure from a loss of forested habitat (Photo Credit: Mary Snieckus)
Amid rising numbers of at-risk wildlife in the South, a new report from the American Forest Foundation (AFF) revealed private and family landowners in the South offer a solution to help at-risk wildlife species.
Southern forests rank at the top in terms of biodiversity when measured by the number of wildlife and plant species. But, due to a variety of reasons, a significant number of the South’s wildlife species are at risk. The reasons include: forest conversion to non-forest uses such as strip malls and commercial expansion; fragmented waterways; natural fire suppression; and an influx of invasive species. Read more »
The northern bobwhite is often referred to as an “edge” species, seeking habitat where crop fields intersect with woodlands, pastures and abandoned lands. NRCS photo by Stephen Kirkpatrick.
If you’re looking to save money around the house, you can find hundreds of helpful videos on a wide variety of “do it yourself” repair and remodeling projects. Social media and other online networking tools can put you in touch with experts to answer your questions along the way.
Well, wildlife habitat can be DIY, too. As a partner biologist with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), I work one-on-one with landowners in Virginia to help them make wildlife-friendly improvements to their property, specifically improvements that benefit the northern bobwhite and associated species. Read more »