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RWO 100: Changes in Avian and Plant Community Composition and Structure Following Prescribed Thinning in Pinyon-Juniper Woodlands.


September 2017 - September 2021


Pinyon-juniper woodlands are an extensive and biologically important vegetation community across the western United States. A history of overgrazing and fire suppression have resulted in pinyon-juniper woodlands expanding beyond its historical distribution and encroaching into predominantly grass and shrubland habitats.

This has led to efforts to reduce pinyon-juniper as part of grassland restoration, but it also been documented that pinyon-juniper thinning and removal reduces avian diversity and abundance. This is of concern due to pinyon-juniper having the highest diversity of wildlife, highest density of nesting birds, and the highest number of bird species throughout the year compared to other upland habitats in the West.

We are working with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to address this issue in New Mexico.

Specifically, we are assessing avian community structure in pinyon-juniper areas in thinned and un-thinned plots, and before and after thinning occurs, to acquire data that facilitates sound management decision analysis for landscape level management.


Current Staff

Federal Staff: 2

Masters Students: 6

Phd Students: 3

Post Docs: 1

University Staff: 2

5 Year Summary

Students graduated: 43

Scientific Publications: 68

Presentations: 160



Funding Agencies

  • BLM, State Office, NM


Texas Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit Cooperators

  1. Texas Parks and Wildlife
  2. Texas Tech University
  3. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  4. U.S. Geological Survey
  5. Wildlife Management Institute