Kansas State University
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Effects of USDA Conservation Practices on Lesser Prairie-Chickens in Kansas and Colorado

Investigators:
Reid Plumb
John Kraft

Project Supervisors:
Dr. David Haukos
Dr. Christian Hagen

Funding:
USDA NRCS
Great Plains LCC

Cooperators:
Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism
Kansas State University

Location:
Throughout Kansas, eastern Colorado

Completion:
December 2016

Status: Initiation Fall 2012


Lesser prairie-chicken (Tympanuchus pallidicinctus)

Objectives:
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.

Products:
Reid Plumb, Joseph Lautenbach, David Haukos, James Pitman, Jackie Augustine and Dave Dalgren. 2014. Breeding season space use dynamics of female lesser prairie-chickens in Kansas and Colorado. Graduate Student Research Forum, Division of Biology, Kansas State University.

Plumb, R.T., D.A. Haukos, J.M. Pitman, J.K. Augustine, K.J. Oxenrider, and D. Dahlgren. 2014. Breeding season spaceuse dynamics 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. Breeding season patch use and habitat selection by female 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