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Lesser Prairie-Chicken Adult Female Seasonal Habitat Selection, Use of Grazed Range, and Predation Risk in Kansas and Eastern Colorado

John Kraft, M.S. Student

Project Supervisors:
Dr. David Haukos
Jim Pitman

Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks,
and Tourism

Christian Hagen, Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks,
and Tourism
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Great Plains LCC
USDA Forest Service

Western Kansas and eastern Colorado

May 2016

Status: Initiation Spring 2014

Lesser prairie-chicken (Tympanuchus pallidicinctus)


Evaluate habitat selection by LPCH adult females in Kansas and eastern Colorado in various habitat landscapes.

Investigate LPCH vital rates and habitat use influenced by common livestock grazing strategies.

Investigate the influences of predator communities on LPCH success and habitat use.

Progress and Results:
Lesser prairie-chickens (Tympanuchus pallidicinctus; hereafter LPC) and their status throughout their five-state range are popular topics of conversation. The listing of LPCH as "Threatened" under the Endangered Species Act has stimulated conservation efforts and plans for management. The majority of the individuals that persist occur in within the Kansas and Colorado borders. However, most research investigating LPCH has been concentrated on southern populations (Texas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico). This project aims to assist in the management of LPCH within the northern reaches of LPCH range by answering questions in regard to habitat selection, livestock grazing and its effects on LPCH, and predator community influences on LPCH habitat use and success. Collaborating researchers are determining demographic characteristics for the species within Kansas and Colorado. From this information (movements, survival, recruitment), habitat types that are selected by adult LPCH females for various ecological functions (nesting, brooding, non-breeding seasons) will be determined and quantified in terms of size, vegetation, and management. These inferences will then aid in the determination of target habitats that are essential pieces for landscape management of LPCH. Common livestock grazing strategies and practices within the Kansas and Colorado LPCH range are also important to large scale management. Adult females have been trapped, marked, and being monitored via telemetry on selected ranching operations at each field site. Habitat use and success (recruitment and survival) of adult female LPCH will be investigated among the various grazing techniques represented at each field site. This will assist managers (private and public) in the future by helping shape grazing operations towards LPCH management goals. Predator populations are currently being monitored via road surveys (avian) and motion-sensored camera traps (mammalian). Relative values of abundance for LPCH predator species will be determined spatially (across habitats) and temporally (thought breeding season). These values will then be used to make inferences about LPCH adult survival and habitat selection across various time periods and habitats. Results of this project will contribute to effective population management and hopefully the delisting of LPCH from the Endangered Species Act.

Kraft, J.D. 2015. Third-order selection of a prairie specialist lesser prairie-chicken habitat selection in varying landscapes. Division of Biology, Graduate Student Forum.

Kraft, J.D., and D.A. Haukos. 2015. Landscape level habitat selection of female lesser prairie-chickens in western Kansas and eastern Colorado. International Grouse Symposium, Reykjavik, Iceland.

Kraft, J.D., J. Lautenbach, D. Haukos, J. Pitman, and C. Hagen. 2015. Female lesser prairie-chicken response to grazing in western Kansas grasslands. Biennial meeting of the Prairie Grouse Technical Council, Nevada, Missouri.

Kraft, J.D., J. Lautenbach, D. Haukos, J. Pitman, and C. Hagen. 2015. Female lesser prairie-chicken response to grazing in western Kansas grasslands. Annual meeting of the Central Mountains and Plains Section of The Wildlife Society, Manhattan, Kansas.

Kraft, J.D., J. Lautenbach, D.A. Haukos, and J.C. Pitman. 2015. Seasonal habitat selection by female lesser prairie-chickens in varying landscapes. Kansas Natural Resource Conference, Wichita.

Kraft, J.D., J. Lautenbach, D.A. Haukos, J.C. Pitman, and C.A. Hagen. 2015. Female lesser prairie-chicken response to grazing practices in western Kansas grasslands. Annual Meeting of the Society of Range Management, Sacramento, CA.

Kraft, J.D., S.G. Robinson, R.T. Plumb, and D.A. Haukos. 2015. Landscape characteristics of home ranges of lesser prairie-chickens. Joint meeting of American Ornithologists' Union and Cooper Ornithological Society, Norman, OK.