wildlife habitat
Wildlife Habitat
“Numerous management practices are applied to rangelands in the western United States to enhance wildlife, including prescribed grazing, burning, brush management, mowing, fencing, land clearing, planting, and restoration to benefit soil and water… A science-based approach is the key to implementing the right practices in the right places and then documenting outcomes to wildlife populations.” Krausman et al. 2009

The University of Nebraska–Lincoln Range, Pasture, and Forages group works with other professors, students, and agencies to promote, protect, and conduct research related to wildlife. We provide the technical expertise needed to execute important habitat sampling to elucidate its interactions with wildlife.

wildlife prairie chicken

Rangelands and Pasturelands

Rangelands and pasturelands in Nebraska compose more than 50 percent of the surface area of Nebraska with large contiguous grasslands, such as the Sandhills prairie which covers 25 percent of the state, and smaller, fragmented grasslands of exotic grass species (e.g., smooth bromegrass) in amongst crop land in the eastern part of the state. Well over 90 percent of the range and pasture in Nebraska is private land, is used as grazing land for the large beef cattle industry, and is the primary source of habitat for wildlife. Management practices applied to range and pasture for beef production purposes, including grazing strategies, fencing, livestock water development, and problem plant control, affect wildlife habitat. Conservation programs and associated management practices supported by federal and state agencies also are applied to private lands to restore rangeland ecosystems and to enhance wildlife habitat. The scale and intensity at which these management practices are applied varies greatly across the state.


Research Goals

The wildlife habitat focus in the range, pasture, and forage program at Nebraska recognizes the significance of the interactions between land management practices and wildlife habitat. Our research goals are to provide information and analyses to guide the management of wildlife in Nebraska as a function of cattle grazing, scale and intensity of agricultural enterprises on grazing lands, other rangeland-based enterprises (e.g., wind power developments), and fire. Our collaborators include scientists and practitioners from other units at Nebraska and other universities, federal and state government agencies, and conservation entities, as well as land owners. This research is funded primarily by the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, University of Nebraska Foundation and the Nebraska Environmental Trust. Postdocs, graduates students, undergraduate students, and research technologists are critical to the success of our program in wildlife habitat. Below is a review of past and current projects in wildlife habitat.