Density dependence of songbird demographics in grazed sagebrush steppe

Kayla A Ruth, Lorelle I Berkeley, Kaitlyn M Strickfaden, Victoria J Dreitz

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Sagebrush steppe is one of the most threatened ecosystems in North America. Adult density of songbirds within sagebrush steppe is a metric used to evaluate conservation actions. However, relying on only adult density to guide conservation may be misleading. Information on how conservation actions influence the nest density and nest survival of songbird species, in addition to adult density, are needed. We evaluated the relationships between nest density, nest survival, and adult density of Brewer's sparrow (Spizella breweri) and vesper sparrow (Pooecetes gramineus) over 3 breeding seasons in central Montana. Our findings suggest that adult pairs of both species were often present in higher numbers than nests, and this relationship was most prominent for Brewer's sparrows. However, our results do not support density dependence when considering nest survival. This discrepancy suggests that songbirds may not breed every year and that density dependence may be operating on nest densities within these populations differently than we examined. This study provides information on relationships between population demographics for 2 songbird species in grazed sagebrush steppe that will improve monitoring and management activities of conservation efforts.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)e0289605
    JournalPLoS ONE
    Issue number12
    StatePublished - 2023


    • Animals
    • Songbirds
    • Ecosystem
    • Artemisia
    • Plant Breeding
    • Passeriformes
    • Demography


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