TBD: Ph.D, M.S. student
Dr. David Haukos
Dr. Christian Hagen
Great Plains LCC
Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism
Kansas State University
Throughout Kansas, eastern Colorado
Status: Initiation Fall 2012
Document the spatial relationships between lesser prairie-chickens and USDA conservation programs throughout the annual cycle (e.g., leks, nest sites, brood use, winter flocks).
Measure the vegetation structure and composition of CRP fields used and not used by lesser prairie-chickens.
Quantify the effects of other conservation practices (i.e., water development, fencing) on lesser prairie-chickens.
Compare the response of lesser prairie-chickens among management strategies of CRP.
Progress and Results:
Lesser prairie-chicken (Tympanuchus pallidicinctus) occurs primarily on the High Plains of the Southern Great Plains. Population numbers and range have declined >80% since European settlement. Populations of northwest Kansas and eastern Colorado are associated with former croplands that have been enrolled in a U.S. Department of Agriculture conservation programs/practices, principally the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) and Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP). Trends in these populations are relatively stable to increasing based on the appearance of leks, count data, and anecdotal information. Conservation practices with CRP fields that may be affecting these populations include vegetation species composition, development of supplemental water areas, mid-term management practices, and emergency haying/grazing declarations. Use of CRP may also be related to juxtaposition of CRP, cropland, and other land uses. Practices associated with EQIP that may affect lesser prairie-chickens include grazing management (e.g., fencing and water development), irrigation strategies, and invasive species control. However, features of CRP and EQIP that positively benefit lesser prairie-chicken populations have not been comprehensively tested. Therefore, there is a need to assess the effects of USDA conservation practices on lesser prairie-chickens to develop guidelines and recommendation for the establishment and management of conservation practices for landowners interested in managing for lesser prairie-chickens. In addition, the overall population response by lesser prairie-chickens to conservation programs needs to be assessed in regard to demography of the population to model future population trends.