Fatal attraction for an imperiled songbird: Is cropland in the northern Great Plains an ecological trap for breeding thick-billed longspur?
Individuals Involved: Principal Investigator:
Dr. Lance McNew
Project Description: "I am investigating the habitat ecology of the thick-billed longspur (Rhynchophanes mccownii) in agricultural landscapes of eastern Montana. My primary research objective is to assess the potential for crop fields to act as an ecological trap for this species during the nesting season. I hypothesize that thick-billed longspurs may preferentially select crop fields as nesting habitat due to a species-specific preference for sparsely vegetated landscapes with extensive amounts of bare ground. I also predict that farming activities may reduce reproductive success throughout the breeding season. I have successfully completed two seasons of fieldwork and expect to have most major analyses completed by the end of spring term, 2022." - Amber Swicegood