Conservation reserve enhancement program fields: Benefits for grassland and shrub-scrub species

Kevin L. Wentworth, Margaret C. Brittingham, Andy M. Wilson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Almost 30,000 ha (74,100 ac) of grassland were created in south-central Pennsylvania through the USDA Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) from 2000 to 2004.To assess the use of these fields by grassland and other birds and to develop region-specific management guidelines, we conducted transect counts of singing birds in 103 CREP fields during 2002 to 2004 and measured within-field vegetation and landscape characteristics.Thirty-two bird species were found on fields during the breeding season. Redwinged blackbirds (Agelaius phoeniceus) were most numerous, followed by three shrub-scrub species. Grassland obligate species were rare and were most abundant on larger fields with a lower density of vegetation and a predominance of cool-season grasses. Abundances of shrub-scrub species were highest on smaller fields with a higher density of vegetation and a higher proportion of warm-season grasses. Avian use of CREP fields in Pennsylvania differs from Midwestern Conservation Reserve Program fields in a number of important ways. Shrub-scrub species were more common, which may be due to the small mean field size and the more forested landscape. In addition, grassland obligates were found in greater densi-ties on fields of cool-season grasses than in fields of warm-season or mixed grasses. Targeted enrollment and management of large fields or those adjoining other grasslands for grassland birds and small fields or those adjoining woodlands for shrub-scrub species may be the best approach to maximize the benefits of CREP for a range of bird species.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)50-60
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Soil and Water Conservation
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Soil Science
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation


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