US Geological Survey


Date of this Version



Published by The Wildlife Society, 2007.


Establishing grasslands has important implications for wildlife, especially in areas historically rich in grasslands that have since been converted to row crop agriculture. Most grasslands established under farm conservation programs have replaced annual crops with perennial cover that provides year-round resources for wildlife. This change in land use has had a huge influence on grassland bird populations; little is known about its impacts on other terrestrial wildlife species. Wildlife response to grassland establishment is a multi-scale phenomenon dependent upon vegetation structure and composition within the planting, practice-level factors such as size and shape of the field, and its landscape context, as well as temporal factors such as season and succession. Grassland succession makes management a critical issue. Decisions on how frequently to manage a field depend on many factors, including the location (especially latitude) of the site, the phenology at the site in the particular year, the breeding-bird community associated with the site, and weather and soil conditions. The benefits for a particular species of any management scenario will depend, in part, on the management of surrounding sites, and may benefit additional species but exclude others. Thus, the benefits of grassland establishment and management are location- and species-specific.