Student ResearcherMaddie Mehrez '22
Faculty MentorDr. Robert Rose
The protection of biodiversity, especially large-ranging and migratory species, depends upon our ability to protect a network of connected wildlife habitats across public and private lands. Facing the interacting impacts of increased droughts, legacy impacts from agriculture and human disturbance, and pressures from land conversion, restoring a network of grassland ecosystems across private and public land in central Texas and Oklahoma is critical for the conservation of globally important prairie bird species. The American Bird Conservancy is working closely with private landowners to restore native grassland habitat for a suite of priority bird species, as part of their Oaks and Prairies Joint Venture's Grassland Restoration Incentive Program (GRIP).
To date, more than 200 projects have been completed. However, many projects are missing spatial data that would allow the partners of the joint venture to assess the effects of the projects on grassland ecosystem function and grassland birds. Maddie worked with the GRIP team to conduct a geospatial analysis exploring the impact of grassland restoration efforts on private lands on the population of a suite of priority bird species. This includes digitizing the treatment areas of these projects and analyzing the effects of restoration projects using publicly available data from sources, such as eBird and the Rangeland Analysis Platform. Maddie's analysis is being used by the GRIP team to guide and monitoring the effectiveness of their restoration and conservation efforts on private lands in supporting bird conservation and ecoystem restoration.