• TABLE OF CONTENTS
HIDE
 Title Page
 Table of Contents
 List of Figures
 List of Tables
 Introduction
 Procedures
 Results and discussion
 Conclusion and recommendations
 Literature cited
 Acknowledgement
 Figure 1. Range of the grasshopper...
 Figure 4. Florida grasshopper sparrow...
 Figure 5. Florida grasshopper sparrow...
 Figure 6. Florida grasshopper sparrow...
 Figure 7. Florida grasshopper sparrow...
 Figure 8. Florida grasshopper sparrow...
 Table 2. Frequency of occurrence...
 Table 3. Structural characteristics...
 Table 4. Comparison of the vegetative...
 Table 5. Florida grasshopper sparrow...






Group Title: Florida Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit
Title: Florida grasshopper sparrow status survey
CITATION PAGE IMAGE ZOOMABLE
Full Citation
STANDARD VIEW MARC VIEW
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00073765/00001
 Material Information
Title: Florida grasshopper sparrow status survey
Alternate Title: Grasshopper sparrow status survey
Physical Description: 38 p. : illus., ; 28 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Delany, Michael F
Cox, Jeffrey A., 1954-
Publisher: Florida Game and Freshwater Fish Commission
Place of Publication: Gainesville Fla
Publication Date: 1985
 Subjects
Subject: Sparrows -- Florida   ( lcsh )
Genre: non-fiction   ( marcgt )
 Notes
Bibliography: Includes references.
Statement of Responsibility: by Michael F. Delany and Jeffrey A. Cox.
General Note: Res. Work Or. no. 14.
General Note: March 1985.
General Note: Series from publisher list.
Funding: This collection includes items related to Florida’s environments, ecosystems, and species. It includes the subcollections of Florida Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit project documents, the Sea Grant technical series, the Florida Geological Survey series, the Coastal Engineering Department series, the Howard T. Odum Center for Wetland technical reports, and other entities devoted to the study and preservation of Florida's natural resources.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00073765
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved, Board of Trustees of the University of Florida
Resource Identifier: aleph - 001905978
oclc - 29123579
notis - AJY1378

Table of Contents
    Title Page
        Title page
    Table of Contents
        Table of contents
    List of Figures
        List of figures
    List of Tables
        List of tables
    Introduction
        Page 1
        Page 2
        Page 3
    Procedures
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
    Results and discussion
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
    Conclusion and recommendations
        Page 11
        Status of species
            Page 11
            Page 12
        Essential habitat
            Page 13
        Management and recovery
            Page 14
            Page 15
        Taxonomy
            Page 16
        Impact of federal activity
            Page 16
        Research needs
            Page 17
    Literature cited
        Page 18
        Page 19
        Page 20
    Acknowledgement
        Page 21
    Figure 1. Range of the grasshopper sparrow...
        Page 22
        Page 23
    Figure 4. Florida grasshopper sparrow locations, 1984
        Page 25
        Page 24
    Figure 5. Florida grasshopper sparrow locations in Osceola County
        Page 26
    Figure 6. Florida grasshopper sparrow locations in Highlands and Okeechobee Counties
        Page 27
    Figure 7. Florida grasshopper sparrow locations in Glades County
        Page 37
    Figure 8. Florida grasshopper sparrow locations in Polk County
        Page 36
        Page 35
        Page 34
    Table 2. Frequency of occurrence for plants...
        Page 32
        Page 33
    Table 3. Structural characteristics of Florida grasshopper sparrow territories...
        Page 31
    Table 4. Comparison of the vegetative structure of 24 Florida grasshopper sparrow territories...
        Page 30
    Table 5. Florida grasshopper sparrow populations currently extant, 1984
        Page 29
        Page 28
Full Text








TECHNICAL REPORT NO. 13


FLORIDA GRASSHOPPER SPARROW STATUS SURVEY

by

Michael F. Delany and Jeffrey A. Cox*


Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission
Wildlife Research Laboratory
4005 South Main Street
Gainesville, FL 32601

and

*Florida State Museum
University of Florida
Gainesville, FL 32611



Supported by:

Jacksonville Endangered Species Office
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
2747 Art Museum Drive
Jacksonville, Florida 32207


Research Work Order No. 14


March 1985





















TABLE OF CONTENTS



LIST OF FIGURES ii

LIST OF TABLES iii

INTRODUCTION 1

PROCEDURES 4

RESULTS AND DISCUSSION 7

CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS 11

1. Status of species 11

2. Essential habitat 13

3. Management and recovery 14

4. Taxonomy 16

5. Impact of Federal activity 16

6. Research needs 17

LITERATURE CITED 18

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS 21


























LIST OF FIGURES


Range of the grasshopper sparrow

Florida grasshopper sparrow habitat

Florida grasshopper sparrow

Florida grasshopper sparrow location

Florida grasshopper sparrow location

Florida grasshopper sparrow location
Okeechobee counties

Florida grasshopper sparrow location

Florida grasshopper sparrow location


ns, 1984

ns in Osceola County

ns in Highlands and


ns in Glades County

ns in Polk County


Figure

1

2

3

4

5

6


7

8


Page

22

23

23

24

25

26


27

28


























LIST OF TABLES

Table Page

1 Bird numbers and general habitat characteristics 29
at nine sites occupied by Florida grasshopper
sparrows, 1980-1984.

2 Frequency of occurrence for plants at 32 Florida 31
grasshopper sparrow territories (320 m2 plots),
15 April to 15 June 1982.

3 Structural characteristics of Florida grasshopper 33
sparrow territories (N=32) in Osceola, Okeechobee,
and Highlands counties, 15 May 15 June, 1981-1982.

4 Comparison of the vegetative structure of 24 Florida 34
grasshopper sparrow territories on three pastures,
Avon Park Wildlife Management Area, 1982.

5 Florida grasshopper sparrow populations currently 35
extant, 1984.












A. INTRODUCTION

The grasshopper sparrow (Ammodramus savannarum) occurs throughout

most of temperate North America (Figure 1), but is confined to low to

medium height grassland plant communities (Smith 1963). The Florida

subspecies (A. s. floridanus) is geographically isolated from the eastern

race (A. s. pratensis) by at least 500 km (AOU 1983) and appears to be

limited in distribution to the prairie region of south-central Florida.

The Florida subspecies was discovered in 1901 by Edgar A. Mearns at

a location "on the Kissimmee Prairie, 7 miles east of Alligator Bluff, Osceola

County, Florida" (Mearns 1902:p.915). Alligator Bluff and the type locality

are in southern Osceola County, Florida, about 16 km south of Lake Kissimmee.

Howell (1932) set the northern limit of distribution as 12.9 km southwest

of Kenansville (Osceola County) where 10 specimens were collected from a

"small colony" in 1929. He also documented a 1927 report of "numerous"

Florida grasshopper sparrows at a location 24 km northwest of Bassinger

(Okeechobee County), referred to two nests found south of Lake Hicpochee

(Hendry County), and stated that Nicholson saw "a number" southeast of

Immokalee (Hendry County), "where they appeared to be breeding".

Nicholson (1936), however, indicated a northern range limit at an

unspecified location 32 km southwest of St. Cloud (Osceola County) with

the population occurring in scattered colonies "sometimes 30 miles apart

to a southern limit at Okeechobee". Howell (1932) and Baynard (1913)

cited two records of an undetermined subspecies occurring in north and

west-central Florida (Alachua and Manatee counties), but their identification

as floridanus is questionable because no specimens north of Kenansville

are extant. On 16 June 1932, Mason (1932) found an unspecified number of










2

sparrows at a location 14.5-24 km south of Fort Drum (Okeechobee

County). In 1935, Schroeder (1956) located "many" birds southwest of

Kenansville, where Sutton (1946) saw "a few pairs" and found a nest with

eggs when he visited the site in 1945. There appear to be no further

records of the subspecies until 1962.

Recent summer records (Stevenson 1978) include one male heard

singing 14 km north of Okeechobee in 1962 and two birds located 1.6 km

south of Brighton (Glades County) in 1963 where one was collected later

that year. In 1968, John Ogden collected one Florida grasshopper sparrow

in atypical habitat near the Everglades National Park (Dade County)

(Stevenson 1968). One singing male was reported "west of Lake Okeechobee"

in 1971 (Ogden 1971). In 1973, one singing male was reported 12.9 km

southwest of Kenansville (Stevenson 1978); a search of the same area in

1974 revealed one pair. From 1974-1979, breeding season searches in

areas of previous sightings failed to locate grasshopper sparrows. The

lack of distributional information precludes a precise delineation

of the historical range, and early accounts provide no documented records

of abundance. Because of an apparent population decline, the Florida

grasshopper sparrow was classified as endangered by the State of Florida

(Kale 1978).

Although specific habitat requirements for floridanus are not known,

preliminary investigations suggest they are atypical of the species (Figure

2). The Florida race inhabits the "stunted growth of Saw palmetto and

Dwarf oaks (Quercus minima) a foot or two high, seemingly preferring this

habitat to the grassy areas usually occupied by other species of

grasshopper sparrow" (Howell 1932). According to Nicholson (1936) the











Florida grasshopper sparrow uses the open spaces "where saw palmettos are

small 10 to 15 inches high and grass is sparse...." Much of this

native prairie has been converted to improved pasture (Davis 1980),

possibly causing the extirpation of the Florida grasshopper sparrow from

some of its former range. Recent observations, however, indicate

that the race may be adapting to these improved pastures (Stevenson, in

Kale 1978).

Florida grasshopper sparrows (Fig. 3) are small, short-tailed birds

about 13 cm long. Dorsally they are much darker than pratensis, being

mostly black and gray (Smith 1963), lightly streaked with brown on the

nape and upper back (Stevenson 1978). Ventrally adults are whitish and

unstreaked with some buff on the throat and breast. The breast is

streaked in juvenile plumage. The stripe over the eye is ochraceous and

the bend of the wing is yellow. The feet are flesh color (Stevenson

1978). No sexual chromatic differences or dimorphism has been reported.

Mearns (1902) described floridanus (based on 3 specimens) as smaller and

darker than other grasshopper sparrows, but with a larger bill and

tarsi. The Florida form is recognized as a distinct subspecies (AOU 1957).

Nests are well arched and constructed on the ground. Usually 4-5

eggs are laid. Nicholson (1936) found nests with eggs and other nests

under construction as early as 23 April. Young in the nest were observed

on 4 June. Breeding activity was again noted on 21 June, indicating a

second brood. Charles Doe found a nest with 4 eggs on 2 April 1927

(Howell 1932). Food eaten during the breeding season (based on the

examination of 10 stomachs) consists primarily of insects and spiders

(69%) and seeds (31%). Grasshoppers, crickets, beetles, weevils and moth











larvae accounted for most of the insects. Sedge seeds constituted most of

the plant material (Howell 1932). Almost no information is available on

the biology of floridanus outside the breeding season. Bailey (1925)

reported finding the sparrow outside its breeding range during the

winter but did not state how he differentiated the birds from migratory

grasshopper sparrows. According to Nicholson (in Smith 1968) hogs,

snakes, and skunks destroy nests and prey upon floridanus.

A survey of the known range of the Florida grasshopper sparrow and

potential habitat outside that range, was conducted during the breeding

season (April-July) from 1980-1984 to gather information on its present

distribution and abundance. Vegetation variables were measured at

territories of male grasshopper sparrows to provide a quantitative

description of habitat for possible use in management of the subspecies.

Surveys conducted in 1984 complemented and filled in gaps in previous

work. In 1984, general abundance and height of plant species were

recorded, along with information on land management practices where birds

were found.



B. PROCEDURES

Surveys were conducted in the dry prairie region of south central

Florida. Most of this habitat is located within the Kissimmee River

Basin and west of Lake Okeechobee in parts of Glades, Hendry, Charlotte

and Desoto counties (Davis 1980).

In Florida, dry prairie grasslands are extensive treeless plains

that often separate fresh water marshes and forested uplands. Seldom

flooded, these grasslands are maintained in early successional stages by












frequent fires. The vegetation is dominated by pineland threeawn

(Aristida stricta), bluestems (Andropogon spp.), carpetgrass (Axanopus

spp.) and paspalum (Paspalum spp.). Saw palmetto (Serenoa repens)

usually occupies large areas in the prairie. Other low woody shrubs

include fetterbush (Lyonia lucida), staggerbush (Lyonia fruticosa) and

ground blueberry (Vaccinium myrsinites). Cabbage palm hammocks,

cypress ponds, and bay heads, consisting of red maple (Acer rubrum), tupelo

(Nyssa biflora), and water oak (Quercus nigra), are interspersed throughout

this prairie region (Hartman 1978).

Bahia grass (Paspalumnotatum), and several species of clover (Trifolium

spp.) have been planted where native plant communities have been

converted to improved cattle pasture. Improved pastures are created and

maintained by mechanical clearing and burning of the native vegetation,

by application of herbicides, lime and fertilizer, and by irrigation

and/or drainage (Milleson et al. 1980). Cattle grazing is the dominant

land use. Due to forest clearing and frequent fires, many areas that

were once open-canopy pineland with an understory of range plants now

resemble saw palmetto prairies (Davis 1943).

Measurements of vegetation variables were made between early May and

mid-June, 1982, at three sites: the Avon Park Wildlife Management Area (WMA)

(Highlands County), Three Lakes WMA (Osceola County), and the Clemon's and

Double Diamond Ranches (Okeechobee County).

All known areas (eight) of former Florida grasshopper sparrow

distribution were located and searched at least twice between 27 May 1980

and 15 June 1984. In addition, nineteen areas that appeared to be

suitable habitat were identified and searched. Surveys were conducted











between sunrise and 1300, by one to three searchers, who walked transects

at 50 m intervals in the habitat, stopping frequently to make visual and

auditory observations. A tape recording of the song of the male

grasshopper sparrow was used to elicit responses from any males in the

area. Where birds were found, information was obtained on the location,

population size and habitat used. Searches were made for Florida

grasshopper sparrows in 24 areas in 1984. These included areas where sparrows

had previously been found, and additional areas with potentially suitable

habitat that had not been searched. In 1984, a total of 11 man-days was

spent walking transects searching for Florida grasshopper sparrows.

Territories were delineated using the flush technique (Wiens 1969).

The center of each territory served as a starting point for two 25 m, randomly

oriented transects. Features of the vegetation composition and structure

were measured at point samples and 1-m2 plots located at 5 m intervals

along each transect. Sampling scheme and calculations were devised by

Whitmore (1981). At each point sample (10 per territory), measurements

included litter depth (cm), height (cm) of the nearest saw palmetto, and

vertical density, which was the total number of vegetation contacts with

a 7 mm diameter metal rod placed vertically into the vegetation. Mean

height was determined by calculating the mean of the highest contact

interval for 10 points; effective height was the highest contact recorded

along the transect. The percentage cover of grasses, forbs, shrubs,

litter, and bare ground was determined from measurements at ten 1 m

subsections of transect adjacent to point samples. Plant species occurrence

was recorded at a 1-m2 quadrat placed adjacent to each point sample. At

one randomly selected 1-m2 quadrat per territory, the number of woody












stems over 20 cm high was recorded. Analysis of variance and Duncan's

Multiple Range Test were used for comparisons of vegetation variables at

territories located on three pastures.



C. RESULTS AND DISCUSSION

Distribution Survey

One hundred and eighty-two Florida grasshopper sparrows (including 10

juveniles) were found at two former locations and 7 new sites during the

period, 1980-1984 (Table 1). Surveys of 6 formerly inhabited sites

(Fig. 4) and 11 areas of potential habitat failed to reveal Florida

grasshopper sparrows. Only marginal habitat, mostly improved pasture,

was found at former sites that are now unoccupied. One new site, one

former site and 108 sparrows were found in 1984. Figures 5-8 show

sparrow locations.

Early records, although vague, indicate that the Florida grasshopper

sparrow was once relatively abundant in south-central Florida. Similar

to other grasshopper sparrows, the Florida race was probably always

sporadic in distributional occurrence. Its isolation from pratensis and

irregular distribution in Florida may be due, in part, to the patchiness

of the native prairie. Despite the location of 7 new breeding sites, the

Florida race remains a rare and relatively unknown bird. Because no

complete surveys for the subspecies have been conducted in the state,

populations in addition to those described in this paper may exist.

Of the 172 adult sparrows found, 119 were males. If each of the

males was mated to a single female, the total population would contain

not quite 250 adults. The known population of 250 breeding birds











represents a minimum estimate of the total population size. It is more

difficult to derive a maximum estimate of Jhe. population size. We have

no doubt that some grasshopper sparrow populations exist in areas that

are virtually inaccessible. Much of the land within the range of the

Florida grasshopper sparrow is contained in a few large, private

ranches. Few roads cross this area, and aerial photographs are of little

use in distinguishing areas of native dry prairie from other pastures

and fields. The roads that we have driven in grasshopper sparrow range have

few areas of potential sparrow habitat along them---certainly less than

20% of the road frontage is native dry prairie, and not all of that has

been burned recently enough to provide suitable habitat for grasshopper

sparrows.

It may be possible to use Landsat data to locate areas of potential

grasshopper sparrow habitat in more remote areas. Landsat records, on

computer tape, reflectance values in different portions of the visible

and infra-red spectra for every spot on the earth's surface every 14-18 days.

Theoretically, it is possible to measure the reflectance values for known

grasshopper sparrow habitat and let the computer locate other areas with

similar values.

A helicopter might improve access to and facilitate surveys of more

remote areas (see Delany et al. 1981).



Habitat Use

In general, grasshopper sparrows were located on treeless, relatively

poorly drained sites that have been burned frequently. A total of 86

plant species occurred in 320 m2 plots located on 32 territories. A











dominant plant in this prairie grassland community was saw palmetto,

which occurred in 34% of the plots. Common shrubs included pawpaw

(Asimina spp.), dwarf oak (Quercus minima), gopher apple (Licania

michauxii), and St. John's Wort (Hypericum fasciculatum). The grass and

herbaceous ground layer was rich in species, being dominated by pineland

threeawn (Aristida stricta), bluestems (Andropogon spp.) and flat-topped

goldenrod (Euthamia minor). In wetter areas of lower elevation, the

herbaceous layer included beak rushes (Rhynchospora spp.), pipewort

(Eriocaulon spp.), and yellow-eyed grass (Xyris spp.). Slash pine (Pinus

elliottii) plantations occurred near most territories, and cypress domes

were located near some territories in wetter areas. The variety of plant

species increased with the elapsed time since the last burn. Forty-two

species were found in an area 3 months after a burn (60 m2 plots) and 60

were recorded from the same number of plots in an adjacent area sampled 2

years after a fire. A list of plant species is presented in Table 2.

Most structural features of Florida grasshopper sparrow territories

varied considerably (Table 3). The habitat containing territories ranged

from thick, low palmetto scrub to grass pastures with a sparse or patchy

cover of saw palmetto. Much of this variation was related to the degree

of pasture improvement. On areas now occupied by grasshopper sparrows,

prescribed burning is conducted by ranchers during the winter (November-

January) at 2-3 year intervals. Other methods employed to manage

pastures containing territories ranged from occasional chopping to

liming, fertilizing and planting bahia grass. Cattle grazing, at a rate

of 1 animal unit per 8 ha, occurred on all sites occupied by sparrows.











Territories in three pastures, which ranged in size from 58 ha to

465 ha, were at different stages of regeneration following prescribed

fire. Differences (P < 0.05) among territories in percentage grass

cover, shrub cover, vertical density and height corresponded with a

general post-burn increase in plant material (Table 4). A concurrent

increase (P < 0.05) in the percentage of litter cover, as well as litter

depth, followed a similar pattern.

The structural characteristics of Florida grasshopper sparrow

habitat that differ most from those reported for the eastern race (Wiens

1969, Whitmore 1981) are the percentage of shrub cover (including saw

palmetto) and bare ground. Whitmore (1981), using similar methods,

reported only 0.7% shrub cover and 21.9% bare ground on grasshopper

sparrow territories in West Virginia whereas floridanus habitat was

characterized by values of 19.2% and 36.2%, respectively. Further,

habitat used by floridanus had much lower values than pratensis for

vertical density, vegetation height, forb cover, litter cover, and litter

depth. The proportion of grass cover and the dominance of bunch grass

species, rather than sod-forming types, was similar to grasshopper

sparrow habitat reported in other studies (Wiens 1969, Whitmore 1981).

The occupied areas studied in Florida exhibited a predominance of

saw palmetto, shrubs and dwarfed trees. Yet at most areas used by

floridanus, vegetation height was lower than in the adjacent habitat. It

is possible that the local hydrology (i.e., poor drainage) and frequent

fires keep these sites from developing towards a successional stage

unusable by grasshopper sparrows. Adjacent areas of taller vegetation

where grasshopper sparrows were not found were usually occupied by











Bachman's sparrows (Aimophila aestivalis). Sparrow densities appeared to

be lower in areas that were not recently (within 3 years) burned.



D. CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

1. Status of Species

In the early 1900's, the population of Florida grasshopper sparrows

was reportedly large and widespread in Florida; however, surveys between

1980 and 1984 revealed only 182 sparrows at nine sites. The sparrow was

found at only two of its former locations, suggesting a reduction in both

abundance and occupied range. An even greater range contraction would be

indicated if early records in Manatee and Alachua counties were floridanus

rather than pratensis. Alteration and loss of habitat due to range

management is the greatest threat to the Florida grasshopper sparrow.

Because of its meager abundance, restricted distribution, and loss of

habitat consideration of the following seems appropriate:

a. Present. or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of

its habitat or range

The principle threat to floridanus is habitat loss or degredation

resulting from pasture improvement. The Florida grasshopper sparrow

apparently can tolerate some alteration in vegetation composition and

structure induced by range management, as evidenced by its occurrence in

some improved pastures. Sparrows were found in improved pastures that

were in various stages of mismanagement, i.e., where native vegetation

was beginning to invade. It is unlikely, however, that the sparrow can

adapt to conditions that result from intensive pasture management, which

removes all shrubs and saw palmetto. Grasshopper sparrows were found











Bachman's sparrows (Aimophila aestivalis). Sparrow densities appeared to

be lower in areas that were not recently (within 3 years) burned.



D. CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

1. Status of Species

In the early 1900's, the population of Florida grasshopper sparrows

was reportedly large and widespread in Florida; however, surveys between

1980 and 1984 revealed only 182 sparrows at nine sites. The sparrow was

found at only two of its former locations, suggesting a reduction in both

abundance and occupied range. An even greater range contraction would be

indicated if early records in Manatee and Alachua counties were floridanus

rather than pratensis. Alteration and loss of habitat due to range

management is the greatest threat to the Florida grasshopper sparrow.

Because of its meager abundance, restricted distribution, and loss of

habitat consideration of the following seems appropriate:

a. Present. or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of

its habitat or range

The principle threat to floridanus is habitat loss or degredation

resulting from pasture improvement. The Florida grasshopper sparrow

apparently can tolerate some alteration in vegetation composition and

structure induced by range management, as evidenced by its occurrence in

some improved pastures. Sparrows were found in improved pastures that

were in various stages of mismanagement, i.e., where native vegetation

was beginning to invade. It is unlikely, however, that the sparrow can

adapt to conditions that result from intensive pasture management, which

removes all shrubs and saw palmetto. Grasshopper sparrows were found











only on areas that had at least some saw palmetto, shrubs and bunch

grasses. Nest sites are reportedly located on the ground beneath bushes

or tall clumps of grass (Nicholson 1936), features that would not exist

in the most improved pastures.

Six of the 8 previously known populations of the Florida grasshopper

sparrow may have been extirpated as a result of range management. The 7

new localities found since 1980 and two former locations are currently

managed for cattle (Table 5). For the most part, this does not appear to

have adversely affected these populations because prescribed fire improves

the habitat for the Florida grasshopper sparrow by maintaining the

prairie grassland community at an early successional stage. There is a

possibility, however, that range management on occupied sites may become

more or even less intensive, rendering them unsuitable for grasshopper

sparrows. More intensive management (removing saw palmetto and planting

grass) would eliminate nesting sites. The exclusion of fire and other

management practices would allow vegetation to reach a successional stage

unusable by the sparrow. Most landowners and managers are not aware of

the sparrows existence or needs. Further, the Florida grasshopper

sparrow is usually not considered when habitat management decisions are

made for public lands. Present land use trends indicate a continued loss

of habitat for floridanus (Table 5).

b. Utilization for commercial, sporting, scientific, or educational

purposes at a level that detrimentally affects it

There is no indication that any of these factors have in the past

had any significant impact on the Florida grasshopper sparrow. There is,











however, potential for adverse impact if isolated pairs are collected or

scientific collection is conducted at locations where numbers are small.



c. Disease or predation

There is no evidence that disease or predation constitute serious

threats to the continued survival of floridanus.



d. Absence of regulatory mechanisms (State of Federal) adequate to

prevent the decline of the species or degradation of its habitat

There are no adequate regulatory mechanisms to assure protection of

prairie grassland habitat in private ownership. The Avon Park Bombing

Range, Three Lakes, and Fisheating Creek Wildlife Management Areas

contain suitable habitat and are under some State or Federal control.

The Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission has authority to

prohibit or regulate the collection of Florida grasshopper sparrows.

However, collecting is not considered to represent a significant threat

to floridanus.



e. Other natural or man-made factors affecting its continued existence

Military activity and methods of range management are discussed below.



2. Essential Habitat

Locations of Florida grasshopper sparrows are shown in figures 4-8

and described in table 1. Unoccupied sites that appear to be suitable

habitat are located in: Glades County, on the Lykes Brothers Refuge

(T40S, R30E Sec. 25,30), Desoto County, on the Montogmery Ranch (T39S,











R27E Sec. 15,24), and Osceola County along the Florida Turnpike (T28S,

R31E Sec. 22, 23, 25, 26 T29S, R32E Sec. 30,31).

A low, but sparse growth of saw palmetto, woody shrubs, and bunch

grass is apparently needed for nesting. Dense vegetation and accumulated

litter would probably preclude effective foraging by the sparrow. During

the breeding season the bird's food consists of insects, spiders and

seeds. No information is available on minimum area required, winter

habitat and diet, impact of migrant grasshopper sparrows, and interspecific

competition with Bachman's sparrows.

Current or planned activities which may affect the quality of the

habitat are summarized in Table 5.



3. Management and Recovery

Alteration and loss of habitat due to range management is the

greatest threat to the Florida grasshopper sparrow. Ranchers and

managers of public lands whose pastures are inhabited by this sparrow, as

well as those with pastures close to known colonies, should be encouraged

to maintain a low (30-70 cm), but sparse, growth of palmettos and woody

shrubs. Management of this habitat by prescribed burning of small areas

(50-100 ha) on a 2 year rotation may be helpful. Cattle grazing at

current levels, 1 animal unit per 8 ha, does not appear to be detrimental.

Known populations should be monitored and an effort should be made to

locate new colonies for protection and management.

The following information is relevant to the problem of how best to

manage Florida grasshopper sparrow populations. In 1981-82, only 4 adult

grasshopper sparrows were found at Three Lakes Wildlife Management Area,











Osceola Co. Many of the pastures at Three Lakes WMA were burned in the

winter of 1983-84, and 37 adult grasshopper sparrows were found there in

1984 (Table 1). At the site owned by the Latt Maxcy Corp. in Okeechobee

Co., no sparrows were found in 1982, but 32 were found in 1984. This

pasture is burned every 3 years, and was last burned in the winter of

1982-83. In the summer of 1982, when no sparrows were present, it had

been 2-1/2 years since the pasture was last burned. In one pasture on

the Adams Ranch, only one grasshopper sparrow was found in 1982, but

eight were found in 1984. This pasture is burned every 2 or 3 years, and

was last burned in the winter of 1982-83. It is evident from these

figures that the burning greatly improved the quality of the pastures for

grasshopper sparrows.

In contrast to the above locations are pastures along Durden Road in

Avon Park WMA. Eight grasshopper sparrows were found along Durden Road

in 1982, but only one could be found in 1984. The pastures had not been

burned in the intervening years, and the vegetation was very dense, with

little bare ground. As a general rule then, it appears that pastures

should be burned every other winter in order to support stable grasshopper

sparrow populations, but further research is needed to substantiate this

conclusion.

Grasshopper sparrows were found in 1984 in two pastures that had

been chopped in the previous few months. Chopping greatly reduces the

amount of vegetative cover and may slow the spread of shrubs. In those

respects, chopping may improve the quality of a pasture for grasshopper

sparrows and be a useful alternative to burning in some cases. In

general, however, chopping is often a prelude to other, more intensive











forms of land management, possibly signalling the local demise of Florida

grasshopper sparrows.

Considerable information is needed before the Florida grasshopper

sparrow can be properly managed and the effects of management actions

assessed. Essential information is discussed under research needs

(page 18).



4. Taxonomy

Grasshopper sparrows (Ammodramus savannarum) are typical sparrows,

most recently placed in the subfamily Emberizinae, family Emberizidae,

order Passeriformes (Paynter and Storer 1970, American Ornithologists'

Union 1983). Grasshopper sparrows are common breeders throughout much of

the continental United States, ranging from southern Canada south to

Georgia, Texas, and California. Additional populations are locally

distributed from Mexico south to Colombia and in the West Indies.

Paynter and Storer (1970) recognized 11 subspecies of Ammodramus

savannarum. Ammodramus savannarum floridanus, a well-marked subspecies,

was first described by E.A. Mearns (1902) on the basis of one male and

two females collected in 1901 in southern Osceola Co., Florida.

A. s. floridanus has been universally accepted as a valid subspecies

(American Ornithologists' Union 1910, 1931, 1957; Hellmayr 1938; Paynter

and Storer 1970).



5. Impact of Federal Activity

It is not known if target areas on the U.S. Air Force, Avon Park

Bombing Range (APBR) contain Florida grasshopper sparrows. Fire











forms of land management, possibly signalling the local demise of Florida

grasshopper sparrows.

Considerable information is needed before the Florida grasshopper

sparrow can be properly managed and the effects of management actions

assessed. Essential information is discussed under research needs

(page 18).



4. Taxonomy

Grasshopper sparrows (Ammodramus savannarum) are typical sparrows,

most recently placed in the subfamily Emberizinae, family Emberizidae,

order Passeriformes (Paynter and Storer 1970, American Ornithologists'

Union 1983). Grasshopper sparrows are common breeders throughout much of

the continental United States, ranging from southern Canada south to

Georgia, Texas, and California. Additional populations are locally

distributed from Mexico south to Colombia and in the West Indies.

Paynter and Storer (1970) recognized 11 subspecies of Ammodramus

savannarum. Ammodramus savannarum floridanus, a well-marked subspecies,

was first described by E.A. Mearns (1902) on the basis of one male and

two females collected in 1901 in southern Osceola Co., Florida.

A. s. floridanus has been universally accepted as a valid subspecies

(American Ornithologists' Union 1910, 1931, 1957; Hellmayr 1938; Paynter

and Storer 1970).



5. Impact of Federal Activity

It is not known if target areas on the U.S. Air Force, Avon Park

Bombing Range (APBR) contain Florida grasshopper sparrows. Fire











spreading from target areas as a result of exploding ordinance could,

however, threaten sparrows on adjacent areas. There would be immediate

adverse impact if targets were moved to locations where Florida grasshopper

sparrows occur. Pastures on the APBR are leased for cattle grazing. The

discontinuation of range management or further improvement of pastures

would both adversely affect the sparrow. Reforestation of occupied sites

would be detrimental to floridanus.



6. Research Needs
To determine limiting factors for floridanus and properly manage

habitat, needed research includes the following:

a. Information on habitat correlates of abundance and changes in

habitat use relative to fire and plant succession. Habitat use

outside the nesting season should be determined.

b. Biological studies should be conducted to determine reproductive

success, nesting, dispersal of fledglings, predation, survival, and

food habits.

c. Additional surveys should be conducted to more thoroughly determine

current distribution and abundance. We recommend using Landsat data

to locate search areas.











LITERATURE CITED



American Ornithologists' Union. 1910. Check-list of North American

Birds, 3rd edition. American Ornithologists' Union, New York.

1931. Check-list of North American

birds, 4th edition. American Ornithologists' Union, Lancaster,

Pennsylvania.

1957. Check-list of North American

birds, 5th edition. American Ornithologists' Union, Baltimore.

1983. Check-list of North American

birds, 6th edition. American Ornithologists' Union, Washington, D.C.

Bailey, H.H. 1925. The Birds of Florida. The Williams and Wilkins Co.

Baltimore, MD. pp.102.

Baynard, O.E. 1913. Breeding birds of Alachua County, Florida. Auk

30:240-247.

Davis, J.H;, Jr. 1943. The natural features of southern Florida.

Fla. Dep. of Conserv. Geol. Surv. Bull. 25. 311pp.

Davis, J.H. 1980. General map of natural vegetation of Florida.

Univ. Florida Agric. Exp. Stn. Circ. S-178.

Delany, M.F., W.P. Leenhouts, B. Sauselein, H.W. Kale, II. 1981. The

1980 Dusky seaside sparrow survey. Fla. Field Natur. 9:64-67.

Hartman, B. 1978. Description of major terrestrial and wetland habitats

of Florida. Pages xii-xv in H.W. Kale, II, ed. Rare and endangered

biota of Florida, Vol. 2-Birds. Univ. Florida Presses, Gainesville.











Hellmayr, C.E. 1938. Catalogue of Birds of the Adjacent Islands.

Part XI. Field Museum of Natural History, Zoological Series,

Vol. XIII, Part XI.

Howell, A.H. 1932. Florida bird life. Coward-McCann, New York, N.Y.

579 pp.

Kale, H.W., II. 1978. Rare and endangered biota of Florida, Vol. 2-

Birds. Univ. Florida Presses, Gainesville. 121 pp.

Mason, C.R. 1932. Notes from correspondents. Fla. Nat. 6:15.

Mearns, E.A. 1902. Descriptions of three new birds from the southern

United States. Proc. U.S. Nat. Mus. 24:915-926.

Milleson, J.F., R.L. Goodrick, and J.A. Van Arman. 1980. Plant

communities of the Kissimmee River Valley. South Fla. Water

Manage. Dist. Tech. Pub. 80-7. 42 pp.

Nicholson, W.H. 1936. Notes on the habits of the Florida grasshopper

sparrow. Auk 53:318-319.

Ogden, J.C. 1971. Florida region. Amer. Birds 25:280-281.

Paynter, R.A., Jr., and R.W. Storer. 1970. Check-list of Birds of the

World. Vol. XIII. Museum of Comparative Zoology, Cambridge Mass.

Schroeder, H.H. 1956. The Florida grasshopper sparrow. Audubon Mag.

58:70-71,92.

Smith, R.L. 1963. Some ecological notes on the Grasshopper sparrow.

Wilson Bull. 75:159-165.

Smith, R.L. 1968. Grasshopper Sparrow. Pp.725-745 in O.L. Austin, Jr., ed.

Life Histories of North American Cardinals, Grosbeaks, Buntings,

Towhees, Finches, Sparrows, and Allies. Part 2. United States

National Museum, Bulletin 237, part 2.










20
Stevenson, H.M. 1968. Florida region. Audubon Field Notes. 22:599-602.

S 1978. Endangered Florida grasshopper sparrow. Pages

15-16 in H.W. Kale, II, ed. Rare and endangered biota of Florida,

Vol. 2-Birds. Univ. Florida Presses, Gainesville.

Sutton, G.M. 1946. A baby Florida sandhill crane. Auk 63:100-101.

Whitmore, R.C. 1981. Structural characteristics of grasshopper sparrow

habitat. J. Wildl. Manage. 45:811-814.

Wiens, J.A. 1969. An approach to the study of ecological relationships

among grassland birds. Ornithol. Monogr. 8. 93 pp.
















ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS



Research conducted between 1981-1982 was supported by the Federal

Aid to Endangered Species Program, Florida Endangered Species Project E-

1. Surveys during 1984 were supported by Cooperative Agreement No. 14-

16-0009-1544, Research Work Order 14, funded by the United States Fish

and Wildlife Service, Jacksonville Endangered Species Office through the

Florida Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit. We are grateful to

M. Bentzien and H.F. Percival who made possible the completion of this

study. R.L. Barker and S.A. Martin participated in the survey and assisted

in locating survey areas. R.P. Wunderlin assisted with plant identification.

C.L. Abercrombie provided statistical advice. J. Bart, T.C. Hines,

D.S. Maehr, and L.E. Williams, Jr. reviewed earlier drafts of this

manuscript and provided many useful suggestions. Special appreciation is

extended to A.L. Adams, III, P. Clemons, D.W. Delargey, W.C. Funk,

C.E. Lough, and P.T. Wilson, who provided access to their properties.

H.M. Stevenson and R. McCracken contributed to this report. V.L. Sims

key-punched habitat data. T.L. Crown typed this and previous drafts of

this report. The senior author thanks his family for their patience and

encouragement during this project.














































Figure 1. Range of the grasshopper sparrow (from Field Guide
to the Birds of North America, National Geographic
Society).

















Figure 2. Florida grasshopper sparrow habitat.


Figure 3. Florida grasshopper sparrow.


















































































I..





*~ 4,



-- -- C
'SW


-91











N









0
)---- t ,,

















FORMER SITE, OCCUPIED

O FORMER SITE, UNOCCUPIED

RECENT SITE, 1980-1982

50


Figure 4. Florida grasshopper sparrow locations, 1984.
























































Figure 5.


Florida grasshopper sparrow locations in Osceola County.













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Table 2. Frequency of occurrence for plants at 32 Florida grasshopper

sparrow territories (320 m2 plots), 15 April to 15 June 1982.


Species Percent Frequency


Serenoa repens (saw palmetto) 33.8

Fimbristylis autumnalis (Fimbristylis) 5.9

Fimbristylis puberula (Fimbristylis) 13.8

Fuirena sciroidea (umbrella grass) 4.1

Rhynchospora fasiculata (beak rush) 12.5

Rhynchospora microcarpa (beak rush) 13.4

Rhynchospora spp. (beak rush) 4.1

Lachnocaulon minus (bog-buttons) 49.4

Lachnanthes caroliniana (bloodroot) 4.7

Aletris aurea (yellow star-grass) 4.0

Andropogon capillipes (chaulky bluestem) 39.1

Andropogon virginicus (broomsedge) 15.0

Aristida stricta (wiregrass) 76.9

Axanopus affinis (common carpetgrass) 8.4

Ctenium aromaticum (toothachegrass) 8.4

Dicanthelium acuminatum (Dicanthelium) 48.4

Panicum absicissum (cutthroatgrass) 6.3

Paspalum setaceum (thin Paspalum) 16.6

Setaria geniculata (knotroot foxtail) 4.1

Sorghastrum secundum (lopsided indiangrass) 8.4

Xyris brevifolia (yellow-eyed grass) 30.0

Asimina reticulata (pawpaw) 15.6










Table 2. (continued)


Species Percent Frequency


Carphephorus paniculatus (deer-tongue) 12.5

Erigeron vernus (robin's plantain) 16.6

Eupatorium recurvans (dog fennel) 24.4

Euthamia minor (flat-topped goldenrod) 26.3

Heterotheca graminifolia (grass-leaved golden-aster) 18.1

Liatris tenuifolia (blazing-star) 4.4

Pterocaulon virgatum (blackroot) 18.4

Trilisa odoratissima (vanilla-plant) 9.7

Licania michauxii (gopher apple) 19.7

Gaylussacia dumosa (dwarf huckleberry) 12.8

Lyonia fruticosa staggerbushh) 10.6

Vaccinium myrsinites (ground blueberry) 8.1

Stillingia sylvatica (queen's delight) 15.0

Quercus minima (dwarf oak) 77.8

Hypericum fasciculatum (St. John's-wort) 22.0

Hypericum myrtifolium (St. John's-wort) 9.1

Rhexia cubensis (meadow beauty) 6.9

Rhexia nuttallii (meadow beauty) 16.3

Ludwiga maritima (Ludwiga) 4.4

Polygala regelii (Polygala) 5.0

Polygonella gracilis (wireweed) 9.1

Gratiola hispida (Gratiola) 5.0






















Table 3. Structural characteristics of Florida grasshopper sparrow territories

(N = 32) in Osceola, Okeechobee, and Highlands counties, 15 May-15 June 1981-82.


Variable x SD Range


Grass cover (%)

Shrub cover (%)

Forb cover (%)

Litter cover (%)

Bare ground (%)

Number of stems/m2

Litter depth (cm)

Palmetto height (cm)

Vertical density: contacts/transect

Mean vegetation height (cm)

Effective vegetation height (cm)


25.5

19.2

4.5

14.4

36.2

30.7

0.7

57.3

66.9

27.8

46.9


18.2

7.8

4.5

8.9

19.5

23.5

0.6

10.9

35.1

6.8

12.0


5.1-69.3

0.0-33.9

0.5-21.0

2.4-34.4

4.9-67.7

0.0-87.0

0.0-2.7

37.1-80.1

10.0-145.0

9.0-39.0

30.0-70.0


--










Table 4. Comparison of the vegetative structure of 24 Florida grasshopper

sparrow territories on three pastures, Avon Park Wildlife Management Area,

1982. Means with the same letter within a row are not significantly

different (P = 0.05).


Means (SD)

Pasture 1: Pasture 2: Pasture 3:

3 months 1 year 2 years

post-burn post-burn post-burn

Variable (N=60 plots) (N=120 plots) (N=60 plots)


Grass cover (%)


Shrub cover (%)


Forb cover (%)


Litter cover (%)


Bare ground (%)


Number of stems/m2


Litter depth (cm)


Palmetto height (cm)


Vertical density:
contacts/transect

Mean vegetation
height (cm)

Effective vegetation
height (cm)


8.7a
(2.4)

24.3a
(6.9)

3.4a
(2.9)

3.8a
(0.7)

59.8a
(6.6)

27.3a
(29.8)

0.2a
(0.3)

58.8a
(10.3)

33.8a
(11.2)

22.7a
(4.2)

40.0a
(12.6)


19.8b
(6.2)

19.5ab
(5.7)

3.0a
(3.1)

13.8b
(8.2)

43.3b
(13.5)

30.8a
(22.2)

0.7b
(0.5)

60.2a
(13.6)

70.3b
(21.3)

30.9b
(4.4)

50.8b
(12.4)


52.2c
(9.1)

14.3b
(5.8)

2.9a
(1.8)

20.5c
(6.8)

10.2c
(4.4)

30.2a
(21.9)

1.4c
(0.7)

55.0b
(3.8)

116.7c
(21.0)

33.8b
(4.1)

53.3b
(8.2)


- -













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