Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

Fall 2012


Great Plains Research 22 (Fall 2012):187-94


© 2012 Copyright by the Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska-Lincoln


Many species of grassland birds are area sensitive, which may exacerbate the ecological effects of the extensive loss and fragmentation of grasslands that has taken place across the northern Great Plains. However, the reasons for this area sensitivity are unclear, as vegetation structure, matrix composition, and restriction of movements among patches do not seem to provide viable explanations for species native to grasslands. Con specific attraction, whereby species are behaviorally stimulated to select habitat or establish territories near individuals of the same species, may help explain this area sensitivity. We review and discuss theoretical and empirical research on avian conspecific attraction and area sensitivity of grassland birds. While the body of literature on these subjects is growing, there have been few experimental tests of con specific attraction in grassland bird species and none that investigate its role in grassland-bird area sensitivity. We suggest that research into the role that conspecific attraction may play in grassland-bird habitat selection could provide new insights into the mechanisms behind area sensitivity in grassland birds and yield new management tools for their conservation.