US Fish & Wildlife Service


Date of this Version



Kantrud, H. A. 1982. Maps of distribution and abundance of selected species of birds on uncultivated native upland grasslands and shrubsteppe in the Northern Great Plains. U.S. Dept. Int., Fish and Wildl. Serv. FWS/OBS-82/31. 31 pp.


U.S. government work


Many areas of the northern Great Plains (Fenneman 1931) remain poorly known ornithologically. Knowledge of species distribution in portions of this vast area has been advanced by recent State birds books (Stewart 1975; South Dakota Ornithologists' Union 1978) but many voids remain. Especially desirable for biologists and land managers is information concerning the relative abundance of plant and animal species over large land areas. This information can only be obtained from extensive surveys of the biota. The field of community ecology has been severely hampered by lack of information on species abundance (Dice 1930; Cain 1947; Partch 1962; Udvardy 1963). In 1974-78, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Migratory Birds and Biological Services Programs jointly funded an extensive study in an attempt to develop a classification of native, northern Great Plains grasslands based on their use by breeding birds. Other goals were to investigate the effects of grazing and other environmental factors on breeding birds and the vegetation. The results of these portions of the study will be reported later. The purpose of this report is to provide ecologists and ornithologists with recent information on areas of abundance of some of the more important members of the avifauna which use grasslands. This information should also prove valuable to conservationists and resource managers as energy developments and further expansion and intensification of the agricultural industry result in increased destruction of native grassland habitat in areas now supporting some of the less common species. During the study, breeding bird censuses were conducted on 615 plots of uncultivated native upland grassland and shrubsteppe in the portion of the northern Great Plains that lies within the United States (Fig. 1). The study area (about 6 X 10 3 km 2) includes portions of Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Nebraska. Grasslands in the mountains, badlands, sand deposits, and river valleys (shown in white on Fig. 1) were not sampled and so are excluded from further consideration.

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