Habitat and Population Evaluation Team
Midwest Region

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Address:
Habitat and Population Evaluation Team
18965 County Hwy 82 S
Fergus Falls, MN 56537
Phone: 218-739-2291

Strategic Management Tools and Mapping Products:  

Grassland Bird Conservation Area (GBCA) Maps  

Breeding Bird Survey results indicate that grassland bird populations are declining at a faster rate than any other group of North American birds. In recognition of this fact, the Prairie Pothole Joint Venture, a conservation partnership of states, non-governmental organizations and federal agencies, has adopted a primary goal of reversing the declining trend of grassland birds.

One factor thought to be adversely impacting grassland birds on their breeding grounds is the continued fragmentation of their habitat. Grassland Bird Conservation Areas (GBCAs) are priority areas for grassland protection and enhancement that are thought to provide suitable habitat for many or all priority grassland bird species in the tall grass prairie portion of the Prairie Pothole Region. Protocols for delineating GBCAs were developed in cooperation with the HAPET office in USFWS Region 6, Bismarck, North Dakota.

All GBCAs consist of a grassland core with a surrounding 1-mile wide matrix. Core areas are at least 95% grassland, at least 50 m from woody vegetation, and may contain up to 30% wetland habitat. GBCAs have been defined at 3 levels to address the needs of grassland breeding birds with differing levels of requirements. Each type is differentiated on the basis of size, width, amount of grass in the landscape, and the types of wetlands considered compatible (e.g., temporary wetlands are considered compatible for all GBCA types because they are typically dry for much of the nesting season).

  • Type 1 – at least 640 acres of grassland at least 1 mile wide. Matrix and core are at least 40% grassland.

  • Type 2 – at least 160 acres of grassland at least ½ mile wide. Matrix and core are at least 30% grassland.

  • Type 3 – at least 55 acres of grassland at least ¼ mile wide. Matrix and core are at least 20% grassland.

Fact sheet

Click to view GBCA maps

Landsat Thematic Mapper imagery and National Wetlands Inventory data were used to delineate GBCAs. The following table describes how landuse type and wetlands were categorized for each GBCA type:

C=Compatible,   N=Neutral,   H=Hostile

Grassland Bird Conservation Map

 

Land Use
Type 1
Type 2
Type 3
  Grassland
C
C
C
  Hayland
N
N
N
  Cropland
N
N
N
  Barren
N
N
N
  Scrub/shrub
H
H
H
  Urban/developed
H
H
H
  Trees
H
H
H
Wetland
  Temporary
C
C
C
  Saturated
C
C
C
  Seasonal
C
C
<30%
  Semi-permanent
<30%
<30%
<30%
  Permanent
<30%
<30%
<30%
  Forested
H
H
H
  Scrub/shrub
H
H
H

 

For additional information on GBCAs or other strategic planning tools for grassland birds contact:

Diane Granfors, PhD
Habitat and Population Evaluation Team
US Fish and Wildlife Service
18965 County Hwy. 82 S
Fergus Falls, Minnesota USA
218-739-2291
diane_granfors@fws.gov

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Last updated: July 10, 2008