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Montana Shortgrass Prairie

The shortgrass prairie ecosystem of North America is among its most imperiled landscapes. Of its original extent, only 0.1% remains. Much of the prairie lands have been converted to large-scale agricultural monocultures (corn and wheat are probably the most prevalent). A combination of land management overseen by the Bureau of Land Management (and other federal/state entities), ranching, and conservation easements protects and preserves the vast majority of the remaining prairie grasslands.

The Cornwell Family of Glasgow, Montana have courteously allowed John Carlson and a team of student researchers in Nina Karnovsky’s lab to set up a MAPS (bird banding) station and conduct censuses of avian species as well as habitat structure assessments on their extensive property. The purpose of this MAPS—the acronym stands for Monitoring Avian Survivorship and Productivity–station is to assess the abundance, longevity, breeding success, and diversity of the avian community associated with a riparian corridor in a shortgrass prairie landscape.