Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: Texas
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Texas Project

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

September 2017 - September 2021


Participating Agencies

  • BLM, State Office, NM

Pinyon-juniper woodlands are an extensive and biologically important vegetation community across the western United States. A history of overgrazing and fire suppression has resulted in pinyon-juniper woodlands expanding beyond its historical distribution and encroaching into predominantly grassland vegetation communities. This has led to efforts to reduce pinyon-juniper as part of grassland restoration, but it also has 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 birds, highest density of nesting birds, and the highest number of bird species throughout the year compared to other upland habitats in the west. Of special concern is how thinning practices may influence pinyon-juniper obligate species of concern, especially the Juniper Titmouse and the Pinyon Jay. 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 informed management decision analysis for landscape level management.