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Document Type

Grand Teton National Park Report

First Page

36

Last Page

45

Abstract

Approximately 50-60% of native sagebrush steppe has been lost to non-native grasses, which has contributed to population decreases for sagebrush-associated songbirds. Removal of non-native grasses and restoration treatments may return structure and function of sagebrush steppe and ultimately benefit songbirds, but their responses must be evaluated. To determine breeding songbird community responses to sagebrush restoration treatments, in 2013 we conducted bird surveys at restored plots at the Kelly Hayfields restoration area in Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming. We compared bird communities and vegetation characteristics in restored plots to plots that were unrestored and to areas of native sagebrush steppe as starting and endpoints for restoration, respectively. Unrestored plots were dominated by non-native grasses; restored plots were dominated by forbs and bare ground and had very little shrub cover (< 0.1%). Native sagebrush plots were dominated by shrubs and native bunchgrasses. Bird community composition was distinct among the three types of plots. Abundance of grassland birds was highest in unrestored plots, and was positively related to cover of non-native grass and litter depth. Abundance of shrubland birds was highest in native sagebrush, and was positively associated with shrub cover. There were very few detections of birds in restored plots, and most species were negatively associated with the high levels of bare ground that characterized these plots. Restored areas may initially (≤5 yrs) provide little breeding bird habitat, which should be accounted for when determining schedules of restoration treatments at Kelly Hayfields.