The disappearance of grasslands from the Chihuahuan Desert is exacerbating the problem of dwindling grassland birds. Conservationists with The Bird Conservancy of the Rockies have been working to understand why this is happening, and how to restore grasslands.
Arvind Panjabi, an Aviation Conservation Scientist with the organization, explains a mixture of cropland expansion and shrub encroachment are all factors affecting diminishing grasses. Panjabi says in turn, “[W]hat we’re seeing with grassland birds is really a decline of the entire guild of grassland-dependent birds.”
Conservationists have learned how range management and grassland restoration can help grassland birds. Ranchers have played an important role in deepening conservationists’ understanding of this relationship.
“Some ranchers are very interested in the birds on their land, the wildlife, and are concerned about them as well,” Panjabi says. “[We] found that there’s a lot of overlap between what grassland birds need, and what ranchers need for their cattle. And that’s essentially a healthy grassland.”
Arvind Panjabi will speak more about the partnership between ranchers and conservationists at the Crowley Theater on Thursday, October 11 at 7 pm at part of the Chihuahuan Desert Research Institute’s Conant Lecture Series.