New paper out on dickcissels!

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Another coauthored paper from collaborator Scott Maresh Nelson came out earlier this year in Landscape Ecology! The university sent out a press release (found here on Science Daily) that summarizes it pretty well.

In their Iowa-based study, the researchers identified all the plants within a 16-foot radius of every dickcissel nest they found -- all 477 of them -- and the more tall fescue there was, the greater the chances of nest failure. No other plant in their surveys had significant predictive power.

"We were interested that tall fescue had such strong ecological effects, in part because fescue is a very polarizing plant," Coon says.

Her comment is based on extensive landowner surveys in the area, which revealed that while some respondents liked a high abundance of fescue, a majority would prefer less fescue on pasture land. Although it is palatable and drought tolerant, the grass hosts a fungus that can stress grazing cattle.

"The fact that fescue came out as one of the main drivers of nest failure means it might be a situation where removing an invasive grass might benefit wildlife and people's livelihoods," she says.

The paper itself can be found here.

As always, I’m excited to see how this ecology paper links to landowner survey results!