Conservation science and research is at the core of the Virginia Working Landscapes program.

We collaborate with several partners to conduct innovative research and use the data collected to help inform best management practices for biodiversity conservation in the region. Our research projects vary from year-to-year and are dependent on grant funding, local conservation priorities and availability of support from collaborators.

While our core projects currently focus on grassland bird and plant ecology, we help facilitate building scientific knowledge around a variety of habitats that make up our region’s landscapes and the communities that rely them. Below are summaries of these projects and the key collaborators that make each of them possible.

Grassland Bird Ecology and Conservation

Grassland birds as a group are declining more steeply than any other group of birds in North America. Declines have been hypothesized to be caused by agricultural intensification and habitat loss on both breeding and wintering grounds, and are expected to be exacerbated by climate change. Nationwide, survey efforts have been underway to better identify optimal conservation measures for the preservation of grassland birds and their habitats. For example, Virginia Working Landscapes (VWL) researchers have been collaborating with landowners and citizen scientists to study responses of grassland birds to conservation and land management practices throughout the Piedmont region during both breeding season and winter. A summary of that research can be found here.

Moving forward, we are interested in enhancing our understanding of the grassland birds we share our landscape with so that we are better suited to preserve their resources. To do this, we are collaborating with experts in the field, from within the Smithsonian and beyond.  These collaborations enable us to harness modern technology combined with unprecedented knowledge and passion, to move conservation forward.

Collaborator-Led Projects


VWL is supported 100% by grants and donations and our work is made possible by the generous contributions from our community.

The Smithsonian Institution is a 501(c)(3). All contributions are tax-deductible.


Virginia Working Landscapes
Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute
1500 Remount Road, MRC 5537
Front Royal, Virginia 22630