Area sensitivity of grassland sparrows overwintering in a South Carolina forested landscape
We assessed area sensitivity of overwintering Peucaea aestivalis (Bachman's Sparrow), Ammodramus savannarum (Grasshopper Sparrow), and A. henslowii (Henslow's Sparrow) within utility rights-of-way (ROWs) at the US Department of Energy's Savannah River Site (SRS) in South Carolina. We compared sparrow abundance among 4 ROW-width classes (25–44.9 m, 45–64.9 m, 65–84.9 m, and >85 m) and used landform index (LFI; a measure of topography and environmental exposure) as a covariate in our analyses to assess potential effects of abiotic characteristics. Total number of sparrows flushed/ha. Grasshopper Sparrows flushed/ha, and Henslow's Sparrows flushed/ha were positively related to ROW-width class. Total number of sparrows flushed/ha and Bachman's Sparrows flushed/ha were negatively related to LFI, indicating a positive relationship with site exposure. Utility ROWs in the Southeast provide wintering habitat for grassland sparrows, especially on exposed elevated plateaus within wide ROWs.