The natural environment faces multiple threats. The rapid economic and social development during the last century coupled with the resulting global change, particularly increased human consumption of natural resources and uncertainty of impacts on climate change, alter habitat dynamics of ecosystems. The characteristics of the world’s prairie ecosystems have been altered as a result of their high value to agriculture, the most widespread means to sustain human activity. With the increasing demands of agriculture to support the growing global population, political pressures, economic conditions, and the level of scientific knowledge available, developing and delivering successful strategies for landscape and nature conservation is increasingly important and complex. Only through cooperation with stakeholder groups will this be realized.
Our research focuses on maintaining, protecting, and enhancing the ecological processes and functions of prairie ecosystems under a changing environment, socio-political pressure, and economic conditions. We work with multiple stakeholders, including natural resource managers, conservation practitioners, and agricultural producers (crop and livestock) to collectively address prairie conservation issues given their value globally as the main source of human food production. Our goal is to understand the interplay of modern land use practices on the ecological characteristics of prairie ecosystems. Specifically, we investigate impacts of human land use and agricultural practices on the ecological functioning and processes of various prairie systems in the Great Plains region of the United States, using avian species as our model assemblage.