Soil quality manipulation to reduce bird presence at airports

Theresa K. Johnston, Bruce Branham, Jeffrey Brawn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aviation safety is an important concern in wildlife management as bird strikes risk human lives and result in costly damage. Habitat management can decrease bird abundances locally at airports. We tested soil manipulation as a technique to reduce local bird presence by establishing experimental plots with either intact topsoil or "stripped" subsoil with the aim of decreasing foraging substrate for birds. We estimated invertebrate abundance, and observed bird presence from 2006 to 2008. More birds visited topsoil plots (151.5 birds/ha/hour) than subsoil plots (72.7 birds/ha/hour). Topsoil plots supported a greater biomass of invertebrates than subsoil plots (= 0.39 g/50 cm3, 0.21 g/50 cm3, respectively). Bird abundance reflected soil variation in invertebrate abundance. Reducing topsoil quality may merit further consideration as a means of reducing local bird activity and abundances at airports.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)261-270
Number of pages10
JournalHuman-Wildlife Interactions
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2014


  • Airport habitat management
  • Bird use
  • Human-wildlife conflicts
  • Illinois
  • Soil invertebrates
  • Soil quality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation


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