Ecology, Conservation, and Management of Grouse

Ecology, Conservation, and Management of Grouse: Published for the Cooper Ornithological Society

Brett K. Sandercock
Kathy Martin
Gernot Segelbacher
Series: Studies in Avian Biology
Copyright Date: 2011
Edition: 1
Pages: 376
Stable URL:
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    Ecology, Conservation, and Management of Grouse
    Book Description:

    Grouse—an ecologically important group of birds that include capercaillie, prairie chickens, and ptarmigan—are distributed throughout the forests, grasslands, and tundra of Europe, Asia, and North America. Today, many grouse populations are in decline, and the conservation and management of these charismatic birds is becoming a global concern. This volume summarizes current knowledge of grouse biology in 25 chapters contributed by 80 researchers from field studies around the world. Organized in four sections—Spatial Ecology, Habitat Relationships, Population Biology, and Conservation and Management—the chapters offer important insights into spatial requirements, movements, and demography of grouse. Much of the research employs emerging tools in ecology that span biogeochemistry, molecular genetics, endocrinology, radio-telemetry, and remote sensing. The chapters explore topics including the impacts of climate change, energy development, and harvest, and give new evidence for life-history changes in response to human activities.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-95057-3
    Subjects: Zoology

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations
  1. Front Matter (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents (pp. vii-viii)
  3. CONTRIBUTORS (pp. ix-xiv)
  4. PREFACE (pp. xv-xvi)
  5. Part I Spatial Ecology
    • CHAPTER ONE Spatially Explicit Habitat Models for Prairie Grouse (pp. 3-20)
      Neal D. Niemuth

      Loss and fragmentation of grassland and shrubland habitat in North America have dramatically reduced the numbers and range of North American prairie grouse (Tympanuchusspp.). For example, the Greater Prairie-Chicken (T. cupido pinnatus) was once found in portions of approximately 17 U.S. states and 4 Canadian provinces (Ross et al. 2006), but presently is in danger of extirpation in 7 of the 11 states in which it is found (Schroeder and Robb 1993). The Lesser Prairie-Chicken (T. pallidicinctus) is still found in all 5 of the states in which it originally occurred (Giesen 1998), but by 1980 its range had...

    • CHAPTER TWO Hierarchical Modeling of Lek Habitats of Greater Prairie-Chickens (pp. 21-32)
      Andrew J. Gregory, Lance B. McNew, Thomas J. Prebyl, Brett K. Sandercock and Samantha M. Wisely

      Conversion of native grasslands to agriculture has caused dramatic declines in prairie habitats since European settlement, and tallgrass prairie is one of the most highly endangered ecosystems in North America, with <5% of the original area remaining (Samson and Knopf 1994). Eastern Kansas includes >90% of the tallgrass prairie ecosystem left in North America, and the Smoky Hills, Flint Hills, and Osage Plains ecoregions have been recognized as ecologically important because they are core areas for grassland birds, an avian community of conservation concern (Fitzgerald et al. 2000, Pashley et al. 2000, Brennan and Kuvlevsky 2005). Unfortunately, long-term changes in...

    • CHAPTER THREE Estimating Lek Occurrence and Density for Sharp-tailed Grouse (pp. 33-50)
      Stephen Hamilton and Doug Manzer

      Many grouse populations are in decline worldwide. While a number of factors contribute to such declines, anthropogenic influences on habitat over large areas are often cited as the ultimate factor (Storch 2000). Sharp-tailed Grouse (Tympanuchus phasianellus) occur in grasslands throughout much of North America (Connelly et al. 1998). In Alberta, grassland habitat has experienced substantial disturbance due to agricultural expansion and oil and gas development (Timoney and Lee 2001, Fritcher et al. 2004, Manzer 2004), which has likely led to declines in numbers of Sharp-tailed Grouse( Connelly et al. 1998). In order to conserve Sharp-tailed Grouse populations, it is...

    • CHAPTER FOUR Home Range Size and Movements of Greater Prairie-Chickens (pp. 51-62)
      Michael A. Patten, Christin L. Pruett and Donald H. Wolfe

      The home range—the amount of physical space individuals need, on average, to survive, grow, and reproduce—is a fundamental aspect of a species’ ecology and is crucial to an understanding of a species’ place in the ecosystem (i.e., its ecological niche). Moreover, it is difficult to develop meaningful management and conservation strategies for rare species if we lack a basic knowledge of their spatial needs (Belovsky 1987). Both movements and home ranges depend on a variety of endogenous and exogenous factors, including demographic status and local habitat and conditions (Southwood 1977). From the organism’s view, habitat can be continuous,...

    • CHAPTER FIVE Impacts of Anthropogenic Features on Habitat Use by Lesser Praire-Chickens (pp. 63-76)
      Christian A. Hagen, James C. Pitman, Thomas M. Loughin, Brett K. Sandercock, Robert J. Robel and Roger D. Applegate

      Suitable habitat for the Lesser Prairie-Chicken (Tympanuchus pallidicinctus) has been markedly reduced over the past 100 years. What remains is highly fragmented throughout the species’ range, and the remaining habitat is widely used for fossil fuel exploration and extraction, cattle grazing, power line easements, and generation of electricity (Hagen and Giesen 2005). The cumulative loss of habitat, declining population trends, and imminent threats led to a recent increase in priority ranking of the 1995 “warranted but precluded” listing under the Endangered Species Act (USFWS 2008). Recent demand on domestic energy production has provided additional human disturbances to the southern Great...

    • CHAPTER SIX Landscape Fragmentation and Non-breeding Greater Sage-Grouse (pp. 77-88)
      Jay F. Shepherd, Kerry P. Reese and John W. Connelly

      Greater Sage-Grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus), a shrubsteppe obligate species, evolved within an environment subject to disturbances that occasionally revert sagebrush communities to early successional stages. Wildfire is the primary natural disturbance event determining the spatial and temporal distribution of successional stages, as well as the plant community composition, in the sagebrush shrubsteppe ecosystem (Harniss and Murray 1973, Young and Evans 1978, Humphrey 1984, Akinsoji 1988, Whisenant 1990). Prior to European settlement, Greater Sage-Grouse habitat was characterized by large areas of sagebrush cover with relatively isolated areas in earlier seral stages due to wildfire. Currently, sagebrush shrubsteppe communities can be subject to...

    • CHAPTER SEVEN Natal Dispersal Affects Population Dynamics of Hazel Grouse in Heterogeneous Landscapes (pp. 89-104)
      Marc Montadert and Patrick Léonard

      With increasing fragmentation of natural habitat by human activities (Saunders et al. 1991), there is an increasing need to assess the dispersal pattern of animal populations in different landscapes. In sedentary species, where most adults stay in the same restricted home range for their whole lives, it is only juvenile movements that allow demographic and genetic flow between adjacent populations. For these species, a knowledge of natal dispersal, including distances moved between natal and adult breeding site, is crucial for understanding the spatial functioning of populations (Greenwood and Harvey 1982, Fahrig and Merriam 1994, Paradis et al. 1999, Walters 2000,...

  6. Part II Habitat Relationships
    • CHAPTER EIGHT Nesting Success and Resource Selection of Greater Sage-Grouse (pp. 107-118)
      Nicholas W. Kaczor, Kent C. Jensen, Robert W. Klaver, Mark A. Rumble, Katie M. Herman-Brunson and Christopher C. Swanson

      Greater Sage-Grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus; hereafter sage grouse) are a sensitive species for state and federal resource management agencies due to declining populations and degradation and loss of nesting habitat (Aldridge and Brigham 2001, Connelly et al. 2004, Schroeder et al. 2004). Estimated trends of male sage grouse lek counts in South Dakota declined steadily from 1973 to 1997. From 1997 to 2004, sage grouse populations may have increased slightly (Connelly et al. 2004). Isolation from populations in neighboring states raises additional concerns for sage grouse persistence in South Dakota (Aldridge et al. 2008).

      Declines in sage grouse populations have resulted...

    • CHAPTER NINE Use of Dwarf Sagebrush by Nesting Greater Sage-Grouse (pp. 119-136)
      David D. Musil

      Greater Sage-Grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) populations have declined throughout their range (Connelly and Braun 1997, Connelly et al. 2004), and their distribution is greatly influenced by the occurrence of shrubsteppe habitat types, especially those dominated by sagebrush (Patterson 1952, Connelly and Braun 1997). Past research on nest habitat of Greater Sage-Grouse in Idaho (Connelly et al. 1991) and elsewhere (Hagen et al. 2007) has focused on landscapes dominated by taller structured sagebrush like Wyoming big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata wyomingensis), mountain big sagebrush (A. t. vaseyana), and silver sagebrush (A. cana). Little is known about nesting by Greater Sage-Grouse in habitat dominated...

    • CHAPTER TEN Modeling Nest and Brood Habitats of Greater Sage-Grouse (pp. 137-150)
      Jay F. Shepherd, John W. Connelly and Kerry P. Reese

      Habitat variables influencing selection of nest sites by Greater Sage-Grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus; hereafter sage grouse) are characterized by the presence of sagebrush (Artemisiaspp.) and herbaceous cover (Connelly et al. 1991, 2000; Gregg et al. 1994; Holloran et al. 2005; Hagen et al. 2007). Similarly, females with broods use areas characterized by both sagebrush and herbaceous cover (Klott and Lindzey 1990, Connelly et al. 2000, Hagen et al. 2007, Casazza et al., this volume, chapter 11). These investigations of nest and brood-rearing habitat have generally been conducted to understand the importance of vegetation composition and structure at relatively small spatial...

    • CHAPTER ELEVEN Linking Habitat Selection and Brood Success in Greater Sage-Grouse (pp. 151-168)
      Michael L. Casazza, Peter S. Coates and Cory T. Overton

      Patterns in habitat selection—the disproportionate use to availability of resources or conditions by organisms—are complex, and the study of these patterns has become a priority in conserving wildlife species (Morrison 2001, Brotons et al. 2004). Organisms are thought to use resources and occupy areas that optimize their fitness (i.e., survival and reproduction; Wiens 1989, Rosenzweig 1991). Beneficial management practices are those that preserve and improve environmental factors that are selected by an individual organism for the purpose of increasing survival and reproduction (Aldridge and Boyce 2008). However, to identify these environmental factors, it is challenging and often necessary...

    • CHAPTER TWELVE Resource Selection During Brood-Rearing by Greater Sage-Grouse (pp. 169-178)
      Nicholas W. Kaczor, Katie M. Herman-Brunson, Kent C. Jensen, Mark A. Rumble, Robert W. Klaver and Christopher C. Swanson

      Knowledge of seasonal habitat selection is important in developing management strategies for sensitive wildlife species. Concerns about declining populations of Greater Sage-Grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus; hereafter sage grouse) date back >90 years and continue today (Hornaday 1916, Aldridge et al. 2008). Sage grouse populations have declined range-wide at a rate of 2% per year since 1965 (Connelly et al. 2004). In North Dakota, populations may have declined by 67% from 1965 to 2003 and in South Dakota sage grouse populations declined steadily from 1973 to 1997, but may have recovered slightly from 1997 to 2007 (Sage and Columbian Sharp-tailed Grouse Technical...

    • CHAPTER THIRTEEN Habitat Selection and Brood Survival of Greater Prairie-Chickens (pp. 179-192)
      Ty W. Matthews, Andrew J. Tyre, J. Scott Taylor, Jeffery J. Lusk and Larkin A. Powell

      Greater Prairie-Chicken (Tympanuchus cupido pinnatus; hereafter prairie chicken) populations in southeast Nebraska appear to have been benefited by conversion of cropland to grassland through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). Through CRP, land owners receive an annual rental payment to remove highly erodable farm ground from production and into grassland cover. Prairie chicken populations in southeast Nebraska comprise the northernmost extension of the Flint Hills population (Vodehnal 1999, Johnsgard 2000). Unlike the Flint Hills in Kansas, southeast Nebraska’s landscape was dominated by agricultural row crops. Post-settlement conversion of grasslands to croplands by European settlers caused this...

  7. Part III Population Biology
    • CHAPTER FOURTEEN Testosterone Mediates Mating Success in Greater Prairie-Chickens (pp. 195-208)
      Jacqueline K. Augustine, Joshua J. Millspaugh and Brett K. Sandercock

      Life history trade-offs are ubiquitous in organismal biology, but the proximate mechanisms driving variation in life history trade-offs are poorly understood (Ricklefs and Wikelski 2002). According to the immunocompetence handicap hypothesis, testosterone (T) enhances male sexual traits but has immunosuppressive effects (Folstad and Karter 1992, Mougeot et al. 2004), leading to a negative correlation between circulating T and annual survival (Ketterson and Nolan 1999, Reed et al. 2006). Nevertheless, if T increases reproductive success but decreases survival, natural selection should confer an advantage to individuals who can balance these two fitness components.

      Trade-offs between mating and parental effort create a...

    • CHAPTER FIFTEEN Reproductive Biology of a Southern Population of Greater Prairie-Chickens (pp. 209-222)
      Lance B. McNew, Andrew J. Gregory, Samantha M. Wisely and Brett K. Sandercock

      Greater Prairie-Chickens (Tympanuchus cupido) have shown significant population declines across their continually shrinking range over the last century. Agriculture practices have caused a drastic decline of available usable habitat since the early 20th century (>95%; Schroeder and Robb 1993, Braun et al. 1994), and prairie chicken populations declined an estimated 75–80% as a result (Johnsgard 2002). The Flint Hills region of east-central Kansas, southern Nebraska, and northeastern Oklahoma consists of intact tallgrass prairie and has been identified as a stronghold for Greater Prairie-Chickens (hereafter prairie chickens; Johnsgard 2002). This area is characterized by rocky soils that are unsuitable for...

    • CHAPTER SIXTEEN Regional Variation in Nesting Success of Lesser Prairie-Chickens (pp. 223-232)
      Eddie K. Lyons, Ryan S. Jones, John P. Leonard, Benjamin E. Toole, Robert A. McCleery, Roel R. Lopez, Markus J. Peterson, Stephen J. DeMaso and Nova J. Silvy

      Pinnated grouse (Tympanuchusspp.) populations have declined throughout their range, and many are considered species of concern (Storch 2007). Declines in distribution and abundance of Sharp-tailed Grouse (T. phasianellus), Greater Prairie-Chicken (T. cupido), and Lesser Prairie-Chicken (T. pallidicinctus) populations have been extensively documented (Taylor and Guthery 1980, Johnsgard 1983, Schroeder and Robb 1993, Connelly et al. 1998, Silvy et al. 2004). Given their historically small range, relatively small population sizes, and continued declines in abundance, Lesser Prairie-Chickens were listed as a candidate species in 1998 by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Federal Register 1998, Hagen and Giesen 2005) and...

    • CHAPTER SEVENTEEN Mechanisms Underlying Variation in Renesting Ability of Willow Ptarmigan (pp. 233-246)
      Kathy Martin, Scott Wilson and Susan J. Hannon

      Over half of first clutches of many bird species, particularly ground-nesting species with precocial young, fail due to predation (Ricklefs 1969, Montgomerie and Weatherhead 1988, Martin 1993). Initiating replacement clutches (renests) is a frequent response to clutch failure, and renests can contribute substantially to annual fecundity (Swanson et al. 1986, Martin et al. 1989, Milonoff 1991, but see Fletcher et al. 2006, Sandercock et al. 2008). Variation in the ability to renest has been examined in multi-brooded species, where subsequent broods greatly increase annual fecundity (Nolan 1978, Grzybowski and Pease 2005). However, there has been much less emphasis on the...

    • CHAPTER EIGHTEEN Chick Survival of Greater Prairie-Chickens (pp. 247-254)
      Adam C. Schole, Ty W. Matthews, Larkin A. Powell, Jeffrey J. Lusk and J. Scott Taylor

      Chick survival is a critical phase for Greater Prairie-Chicken (Tympanuchus cupido; hereafter prairie chicken) population dynamics; Wisdom and Mills (1997) reported that finite rates of population growth of prairie chickens were highly sensitive to juvenile survival rates. No data on cause-specific chick survival exists for prairie chickens; such information is critical for species of conservation concern. Biologists often use periodic flushes of radio-marked females to estimate brood success for grouse species, but this method does not provide information about the cause of mortality of chicks. Radio-marked chicks can be used to efficiently identify mortality events, suitable brood rearing habitat, and...

    • CHAPTER NINETEEN Human-Mediated Selection on Life-History Traits of Greater Prairie-Chickens (pp. 255-266)
      Lance B. McNew, Andrew J. Gregory, Samantha M. Wisely and Brett K. Sandercock

      Life-history theory predicts that the diversity of life-history strategies in vertebrates can be explained by trade-offs among demographic traits that maximize lifetime reproductive success and fitness. Species with low adult survival should invest heavily in components of reproduction, whereas longer-lived organisms should invest less in current reproduction, at least early in their lives, to maximize benefits from residual reproductive value in future breeding attempts (Roff 1992, Martin 2002). Interspecific comparisons of variation in avian life-history traits have provided evidence for trade-offs between annual survival and the components of reproductive effort, including the probabilities of breeding and renesting, clutch size, and...

    • CHAPTER TWENTY Demographic Traits of Two Alpine Populations of Rock Ptarmigan (pp. 267-280)
      Claude Novoa, Jean-François Desmet, Jean-François Brenot, Bertrand Muffat-Joly, Marc Arvin-Bérod, Jean Resseguier and Bastien Tran

      Rock Ptarmigan (Lagopus muta) are small-bodied grouse occurring over a wide latitudinal range, from 83° N in northern Greenland to less than 40° N in Japan (Johnsgard 1983, Storch 2000). Although most populations inhabit subarctic or arctic lands above 60° N, the species is also found in alpine areas of North America and in the southern mountains of Europe and Japan. Like other species of ptarmigan living all year round in arctic–alpine habitats, Rock Ptarmigan have developed particular life history strategies and physiological adaptations to cope with extreme environmental conditions (Martin 2001, Martin and Wiebe 2004). In this respect,...

  8. Part IV Conservation and Management
    • CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE Effects of Climate Change on Nutrition and Genetics of White-tailed Ptarmigan (pp. 283-294)
      Sara J. Oyler-McCance, Craig A. Stricker, Judy St. John, Clait E. Braun, Gregory T. Wann, Michael S. O’Donnell and Cameron L. Aldridge

      All major ecosystems are predicted to experience alterations resulting from climate change (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 2007). Alpine ecosystems may be particularly susceptible to warming because their existence is partially affected by low temperature conditions, which are expected to rise (Armstrong and Halfpenny 2001). Projected changes in alpine systems will likely be detrimental to vertebrate species inhabiting these ecosystems since alpine habitats are analogous to islands, separated by expanses of low-lying, warmer habitats. Alpine vertebrates are highly specialized in their habitat requirements (Armstrong and Halfpenny 2001); as treeline is expected to advance in elevation and plants from lower altitudes...

    • CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO Effects of Translocation on the Behavior of Island Ptarmigan (pp. 295-306)
      Robb S. A. Kaler and Brett K. Sandercock

      Oceanic island systems are highly susceptible to extinction, largely owing to reduced diversification, simplified food webs, and high rates of endemism, which make island species highly sensitive to ecological perturbations and disturbance (Moors 1993, Courchamp et al. 2003). Introduction of nonnative mammals has been a major cause of biodiversity loss on islands, due to the small size of island populations and a lack of adaptive behavioral responses among island species which have evolved without predators or competitors (Savage 1984, Atkinson 1985, King 1985, Moors and Atkinson 1984). Less than 20% of the world’s bird species are restricted to islands, but...

    • CHAPTER TWENTY-THREE Hunting Lowers Population Size in Greater Sage-Grouse (pp. 307-316)
      Robert M. Gibson, Vernon C. Bleich, Clinton W. McCarthy and Terry L. Russi

      How recreational hunting affects population size is particularly relevant to biologists charged with the management of populations of grouse, several species of which are in decline worldwide (Storch 2007). Ecological models of harvesting, such as those used to predict maximum sustainable yield, typically assume that hunting is additive to other sources of mortality and hence reduces population size (Caughley and Sinclair 1994). If so, the short-term recreational benefits of hunting must be weighed against the effects of reduced population size on long-term population viability. In contrast, wildlife managers often assume that hunting is compensatory to other sources of mortality and...

    • CHAPTER TWENTY-FOUR Spatial-Temporal Variation in Survival of Harvested Greater Sage-Grouse (pp. 317-328)
      Benjamin S. Sedinger, James S. Sedinger, Shawn Espinosa, Michael T. Atamian and Erik J. Blomberg

      Greater Sage-Grouse (hereafter sage grouse) are relatively long-lived galliform birds (Schroeder et al. 1999). Sæther and Bakke (2000) suggest that long-lived species that exhibit low reproductive potential should be more sensitive to adult survival than to fecundity. Currently, however, there is a lack of consensus about the relative roles of adult survival and recruitment in the dynamics of sage grouse populations (Aldridge and Brigham 2001, Crawford et al. 2004, Walker 2008), although spread of West Nile virus into sage grouse breeding areas is clearly having population-level consequences (Naugle et al. 2004, Walker 2008). To date, there have been few studies...

    • CHAPTER TWENTY-FIVE Adaptive Harvest Management and Harvest Mortality of Greater Prairie-Chickens (pp. 329-340)
      Larkin A. Powell, J. Scott Taylor, Jeffrey J. Lusk and Ty W. Matthews

      Informed harvest management decisions are critical to sustain game populations. Harvest decisions can be controversial, especially for species that are not abundant; thus, decisions must be defensible. Monitoring data can provide guidance for decisions if gathered and interpreted correctly (Lyons et al. 2008). However, population fluctuations can be complicated by environmental factors other than harvest. Moreover, it is common for harvest decisions to have complex sets of multiple decisions, subjective values of stakeholders, and uncertainties about the dynamics of the game population’s response to harvest mortality. Adaptive management (AM) is an iterative, learning-based framework for making decisions in wildlife management...

  9. INDEX (pp. 341-354)
  10. STUDIES IN AVIAN BIOLOGY (pp. 355-356)
  11. Back Matter (pp. 357-360)

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