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A Historical Record of Land Cover Change of the Lesser Prairie-chicken Range in Kansas

David Spencer, M.S. Student, Geography

Project Supervisor:
Dr. David Haukos
Dr. Melinda Daniels


LEPC range in Kansas; Western Kansas

December 2014

Status: In Progress

LEPC range in Kansas (Click on photo to enlarge)

Create land cover maps of the LEPC range for each decade between 1950-2013.

Document changes in areal extent and connectivity of land cover classes.

Quantify effects of conservation practices on land cover with LEPC range.

Progress and Results:
The Lesser prairie-chicken (Tympanuchus pallidicinctus) has experienced significant changes to the size and distribution of its range during the 20th and 21st centuries. Our objective is to document the changes in cover type in the lesser prairie-chicken range in Kansas from 1950 to 2013 using aerial photography and satellite imagery. Using aerial photographs from the Army Map Service and the Farm Service Agency, land cover shape files representing native prairie and agriculture were digitized for a period during both the 1950s and 1960s. Beginning in the 1970's, LANDSAT satellite images were spectrally classified to create land cover maps for a year during each decade from 1970 through 2013. To document changes between decades, land cover classes of each shape file were analyzed using the program FragStats to obtain multiple landscape metrics, such as areal extent of land cover classes and connectivity between classes. Preliminary results indicate that within the lesser prairie chicken range, there has been a reduction in prairie grasslands and an increase in croplands from 1950-2013. However, beginning in the 1980's, areas of croplands transitioned to perennial grasslands as a result of initiation of the USDA Conservation Reserve Program. The change in spatial arrangement of available habitat has affected the density and distribution of lesser prairie-chickens.

Spencer, D., D. Haukos, C. Hagen, M. Daniels, and D. Goodin. 2017. Conservation Reserve Program mitigates grassland loss in the lesser prairie-chicken range of Kansas. Global Ecology and Conservation 9:21-38.

Thesis or Dissertation:
Spencer, David (M.S. 2014; advisor Haukos). A historical record of land cover change of the lesser prairie-chicken range in Kansas. M.S. Thesis, Kansas State University.

Spencer, D., M. Daniels, and D. Haukos. 2014. A historical record of land cover change of the lesser prairie-chicken range in Kansas. Midwest Fish and Wildlife Conference, Kansas City, MO.