Jones, Ryan S. (2009-05). SEASONAL SURVIVAL, REPRODUCTION, AND USE OF WILDFIRE AREAS BY LESSER PRAIRIE CHICKENS IN THE NORTHEASTERN TEXAS PANHANDLE. Master's Thesis. Thesis uri icon

abstract

  • Lesser prairie chicken (Tympanuchus pallidicinctus) numbers have declined considerably in Texas since the early 1900s. Conversion of native prairie to cropland has been the major cause of the decline. I trapped and monitored 115 (66 males, 49 females) lesser prairie chickens in the Rolling Plains of the Texas Panhandle from 2001 through 2003. I used an information-theoretic approach to model selection as implemented in program MARK to evaluate factors contributing to variation in survival and differences in nest success. I found breeding season survival of both males and females was lower compared to non-breeding season survival. Annual survival was 0.52 (95% CI: 0.32? 0.71). Model selection indicated higher nest success (70%) in the sand sagebrush (Artemisia filifolia) vegetation type as compared to the shinnery oak (Quercus harvardii) type (40%). I also evaluated post-burn habitat alterations and plant succession (1 year and 2 years after burning) as potential lesser prairie chicken habitat. After spring rainfalls stimulated re-growth of herbaceous plants, male lesser prairie chickens moved to the site, feeding on new-emerging forbs throughout the summer. A female lesser prairie chicken with a brood used the burned site during the first summer after the burn. A year later, males established a lek on the burned site. Two female lesser prairie chickens with broods used the burned site during the second summer. Burned sites had more forbs than nonburned sites and probably had more insects available which are an important food source for chicks during their first 4?5 weeks of age.
  • Lesser prairie chicken (Tympanuchus pallidicinctus) numbers have declined
    considerably in Texas since the early 1900s. Conversion of native prairie to cropland has
    been the major cause of the decline. I trapped and monitored 115 (66 males, 49 females)
    lesser prairie chickens in the Rolling Plains of the Texas Panhandle from 2001 through
    2003.
    I used an information-theoretic approach to model selection as implemented in
    program MARK to evaluate factors contributing to variation in survival and differences in
    nest success. I found breeding season survival of both males and females was lower
    compared to non-breeding season survival. Annual survival was 0.52 (95% CI: 0.32?
    0.71). Model selection indicated higher nest success (70%) in the sand sagebrush
    (Artemisia filifolia) vegetation type as compared to the shinnery oak (Quercus harvardii)
    type (40%).
    I also evaluated post-burn habitat alterations and plant succession (1 year and 2
    years after burning) as potential lesser prairie chicken habitat. After spring rainfalls
    stimulated re-growth of herbaceous plants, male lesser prairie chickens moved to the site,
    feeding on new-emerging forbs throughout the summer. A female lesser prairie chicken with a brood used the burned site during the first summer after the burn. A year later,
    males established a lek on the burned site. Two female lesser prairie chickens with broods
    used the burned site during the second summer. Burned sites had more forbs than nonburned
    sites and probably had more insects available which are an important food source
    for chicks during their first 4?5 weeks of age.

publication date

  • May 2009