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Landscape Predictors of Avian Community Structure

The cornerstone of our project is an exploration of how farming practices, and the farm environment, impact wild bird communities and these birds’ benefits and harms to farm ecology. We are focusing our comprehensive bird-ecology studies on a group of 40 geographically, physically, and philosophically diverse mixed-vegetable farms across WA, OR, and CA (Fig. 1). While differences between “integrated” and “vegetable-only” farms may be most obvious, these farms also differ in a wide variety of other management practices (e.g., pest management regimes, use of flowering hedgerows, etc), landscape settings (urban, rural, natural) and scales (0.38 ha to 272 ha [mean 29.95 ha ± 8.55 SE]) likely to impact wild-bird populations. As part of farm characterization, we have mapped farm features, and surrounding habitats, using GIS approaches. We are also in the process of conducting rigorous, repeated surveys of bird populations on each farm. Finally, we are developing a survey for a broader group of western growers for their experiences with bird management, while interviewing our focal growers about their farming practices. The end product will be an integrated outreach component will develop powerful, convenient, mobile-web-based tools to allow growers to better understand and manage wild-bird populations on their farms.

Fig 1. Map showing locations of farms in the study