Date of Award

2018

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Author's Department

Biological Sciences

First Advisor

Jill L. Deppe

Abstract

Giant Miscanthus (Miscanthus x giganteus) is a promising bioenergy feedstock, newly introduced to North America. However, the qualities that make Giant Miscanthus an attractive bioenergy feedstock may pose challenges to local wildlife. To assess the impacts of Giant Miscanthus on Midwestern farmland birds, I conducted point count and vegetation surveys at three sites in east-central Illinois where Giant Miscanthus was being cultivated. I used occupancy modeling to assess the relative influence of Giant Miscanthus on five species relative to other habitat and landscape characteristics. Dickcissel (Spiza Americana), Eastern Meadowlark (Sturnella magna), and Red-Winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus) occupancy was positively associated with Giant Miscanthus. However, these associations were relatively weak and they appear to have been induced by interpenetration by grasses and forbs in early establishment Miscanthus cultivations. Fully established Giant Miscanthus does not appear to be conducive to Midwestern bird communities. Alternative bioenergy feedstocks, such as switchgrass, and efforts to increase within field heterogeneity of Giant Miscanthus cultivations are recommended to better support farmland birds while meeting human energy goals.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

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