Status assessment and conservation plan for the Grasshopper Sparrow (Ammodramus savannarum)
Author(s):Janet M. Ruth
Suggested Citation:Janet M. Ruth. 2015. Status assessment and conservation plan for the Grasshopper Sparrow (Ammodramus savannarum). Lakewood, CO: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 105 p.
The Grasshopper Sparrow (Ammodramus savannarum) breeds in grassland habitats throughout much of the U.S., southern and southeastern Canada, and northern Mexico. Additional subspecies are resident in Central America, northern South America, and the Caribbean. It winters primarily in the coastal states of the southeastern U.S., southern portions of the southwestern states, and in Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean. The species prefers relatively open grassland with intermediate grass height and density and patchy bare ground; because it is widely distributed across different grassland types in North America, it selects different vegetation structure and species composition depending on what is available. In the winter, they use a broader range of grassland habitats including open grasslands, as well as weedy fields and grasslands with woody vegetation. Analyses show significant range-wide population declines from the late 1960s through the present, primarily caused by habitat loss, degradation, and fragmentation. Grasshopper Sparrow is still a relatively common and broadly distributed species, but because of significant population declines and stakeholder concerns, the species is considered of conservation concern nationally and at the state level for numerous states. Many factors, often related to different grassland management practices (e.g., grazing, burning, mowing, management of shrub encroachment, etc.) throughout the species’ range, have impacts on Grasshopper Sparrow distribution, abundance, and reproduction and may represent limiting factors or threats given steep declines in this species’ population. Because of the concerns for this species, Grasshopper Sparrow has been identified as a focal species by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and this Status Assessment and Conservation Plan for Grasshopper Sparrow has been developed. Through literature searches and input from stakeholders across its range, this plan presents information about Grasshopper Sparrow population status, distribution, habitat needs, threats and limiting factors; synthesis of these resources has identified recommended action items addressing population status and trends, habitat conservation, management, research, inventory and monitoring, and education and outreach components that will facilitate Grasshopper Sparrow conservation across its full annual cycle.