Kansas State University
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Breeding Season Survival, Space Use, Movement, and Habitat Use of Female Lesser Prairie-Chickens (Tympanuchus pallidicinctus) in Kansas and Colorado

Investigators:
Reid Plumb, M.S. Student

Project Supervisors:
Dr. David Haukos
Jim Pitman

Funding:
Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism
Colorado Department of Wildlife and Parks
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
NRCS USDA
FSA USDA
U.S. Geological Survey

Cooperators:
Christian Hagen
Jeff Prendergast
TNC
CGC

Location:
Kansas and Colorado

Completion:
December 2014

Status: Ongoing


Lesser prairie-chicken (Tympanuchus pallidicinctus)

Objectives:
Quantify breeding season survival of lesser prairie-chicken (LPCH) populations in Kansas and Colorado.

Quantify breeding season movement and space use of adult female LPCH in Kansas and Colorado.

Identify LPCH habitat patch use during the breeding season.

Establish functional relationships between habitat patch use and vital rates of LPCH populations.

Compare vital rates and drivers among populations.

Identify the effects of habitat patch size, composition, and fragmentation on vital rates of LPCH populations.

Evaluate potential radio marked handicap between 2 radio transmitter types.

Progress and Results:
The Lesser prairie-chicken (Tympanuchus pallidicinctus; hereafter LPCH) is a prairie grouse species once widely distributed in the southwestern Great Plains of Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Colorado. Their range and population have been reduced by an estimated 90% since European settlement in the 1800s. As a result of continued population declines, the USFWS has listed the species as threatened under the Endangered Species Act of 1973. Survival, space use, and habitat use are confounding factors that drive population trajectories. Therefore, more recent and robust estimates of these factors are crucial for effective management and conservation decisions. The goals of this project are to estimate breeding season survival rates, movement, space use, and habitat use of adult female LPCH in Kansas and Colorado. LPCH were trapped and marked during the spring (March - May) of 2013 and 2014. Habitat at all study sites was sampled at the patch scale type and sampled to characterize the composition and structure. Preliminary survival estimates were produced using staggered entry, known-fate modeling procedures in Program Mark. We had a total of 54 confirmed mortalities of marked individuals across the study sites. Mortality during the nesting period accounted for 63% of all breeding season mortality with the first 3 weeks accounting for 43% alone. GPS transmitters did not bias survival of adult females as GPS marked birds had slightly higher weekly survival rates (0.96 ± 0.01) and a greater probability of surviving the entire breeding period (0.39 + 0.04) than did VHF marked birds (0.93 ± 0.01; 0.22 ± 0.07), respectively. Survival varied regionally with the SC Kansas having the highest derived estimates and NW Kansas having the lowest. Female movements varied between periods with larger movements occurring during the lekking and re-nesting periods (12.17 - 21.31-km) than the nesting, brooding, and post breeding periods (4.75 - 10.61-km). Movement also varied regionally with NW Kansas consistently having larger average weekly movements that the SC Kansas. Home-range size varied temporarily with the lekking and post-breeding periods having the largest home-range sizes. Home-range size did not substantially vary between regions. Home-range core area sizes were relatively consistent between regions and across the breeding season (Figure 2). Habitat use did not vary greatly between regions with LPCH females using grassland habitats at a higher proportion compared to CRP and Crop. However, grassland usage varied from 50%-90% in NW Kansas depending on the period (Figure 3). Intuitively, cropland was used relatively infrequently through the breeding season. Marked individuals in SC Kansas used grassland habitats exclusively during the breeding season. Further data analysis is ongoing and is expected to be completed by December 2014.





Figure 2. 2013 breeding season habitat use by period of female lesser prairie-chickens in NW Kansas.


Figure 3. Temporal and regional variation of average weekly movements of female lesser prairie-chickens in Kansas.


Products since 2012:
Plumb, R.T., J. Lautenbach, B. Ross, D. Spencer, D. Haukos, J. Pitman, and D. Dahlgren. 2014. Breeding season habitat patch use by female lesser prairie-chickens in Kansas and Colorado. Joint meeting of American Ornithologists' Union, Cooper Ornithological Society, and Society of Canadian Ornithologists, Estes Park, Colorado.

Plumb, R.T., J. Lautenbach, B. Ross, D. Spencer, D. Haukos, J. Pitman, and D. Dahlgren. 2014. Effects of habitat patch use on breeding season survivorship of lesser prairie-chickens in Kansas and Colorado. Joint meeting of American Ornithologists' Union, Cooper Ornithological Society, and Society of Canadian Ornithologists, Estes Park, Colorado.

Plumb, R.T., J. Lautenbach, B. Ross, D. Spencer, D. Haukos, J. Pitman, J. Augustine, K. Oxenrider, and D. Dahlgren. 2014. Breeding season space use dynamics of female lesser prairie-chickens in Kansas and Colorado. Symposium on Animal Movement and the Environment, Raleigh, North Carolina.

Plumb, R.T., J. Lautenbach, B. Ross, D. Spencer, D. Haukos, J. Pitman, J. Augustine, K. Oxenrider, and D. Dahlgren. 2014. Past, Present, and Future: using historical and information to guide conservation decisions for an iconic prairie grouse of the southwestern Great Plains. Regional Pheasants Forever and Quail Unlimited Conference, Wichita, Kansas.

Plumb, R.T., D.A. Haukos, J.M. Pitman, J.K. Augustine, K.J. Oxenrider, and D. Dahlgren. 2014. Breeding season home-range characteristics of female lesser prairie-chickens in Kansas and Colorado. Kansas Natural Resources Conference, Wichita, KS.

Plumb, R.T., D.A. Haukos, J.M. Pitman, J.K. Augustine, K.J. Oxenrider, and D. Dahlgren. 2014. Nest site location by lesser prairie-chickens in Kansas and Colorado. Midwest Fish and Wildlife Conference, Kansas City, MO.

Plumb, R.T., Lautenbach, J., D.A. Haukos, J.M. Pitman, J.K. Augustine, K.J. Oxenrider, and D. Dahlgren. 2014. Effects of habitat patch selection on breeding season survivorship of lesser prairie-chickens in Kansas and Colorado. Midwest Fish and Wildlife Conference, Kansas City, MO.

Plumb, R., J. Lautenbach, D. Haukos, J. Pitman, J. Augustine, K. Oxenrider, and D. Dahlgren. 2013. Adult female survival of lesser prairie-chickens in Kansas and Colorado. Biennial Prairie Grouse Technical Council Meeting, Crookston, MN

Plumb, R., J. Lautenbach, D. Haukos, J. Pitman, J. Augustine, K. Oxenrider, and D. Dahlgren. 2013. Breeding season movements of adult female lesser prairie-chickens in Kansas and Colorado. Biennial Prairie Grouse Technical Council Meeting, Crookston, MN