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JWM Study: Sandhill cranes prefer wide channels, short bank vegetation

Cara J

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Every spring, tourists from around the world flock to Nebraska to watch over half a million migrating sandhill cranes (Grus canadensis) roosting on the Platte River. Where the birds choose to rest on this landscape depends on channel width, bank vegetation height, access to cornfields and proximity to human disturbance, a recent study found. “Cranes prefer wide channels,” said Gary Krapu, co-author on the paper published in the April issue of the Journal of Wildlife Management. “As the channel narrows, the height of the vegetation becomes increasingly important.” Spanning five migrations from 2003 to 2007, Krapu and his fellow researchers examined over 6,300 roost sites in south-central Nebraska for more than 300 cranes bearing VHF transmitters. At these locations, the biologists measured the features of the channel, river bank vegetation height, distance to cornfields and presence of disturbances such as roads, bridges and houses. They examined the cranes’ roost-site selection by comparing used sites with available ones to figure out the most effective ways to enhance the habitat for the birds. “When crane managers look at where they should put effort, channel width and bank vegetation height are two factors they can control most through clearing woody vegetation,” Krapu said. [...]


Read more: http://wildlife.org/jwm-study-sandhill-cranes-prefer-wide-channels-short-bank-vegetation/

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