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Determination of breeding-bird densities 3-4 years after sagebrush (Artemisia spp.) control in central Utah revealed varied responses by bird species. Although total densities and species richness were similar among sites (81-109 territories/km2 of 4-6 species), the burned site contained 50-86% fewer Brewer's sparrow (Spizella breweri) territories than the chained and 17-year-old plowed sites. The vesper sparrow (Pooecetes gramineus) and western meadowlark (Sturnella neglecta), both grassland birds, were not noticeably affected by sagebrush control. Horned lark (Eremophila alpestris) densities were 1.8-2.8× greater on the recently treated sites. The sage thrasher (Oreoscoptes montanus) was only found in habitat patches containing the largest shrubs. Nesting requirements best explained the patterns of distribution and responses observed. Bird species diversity can be maximized by treating sagebrush areas in narrow (100 m) strips and maintaining blocks of mature sagebrush.
The Journal of Wildlife Management © 1982 Wiley