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A decision-support tool to prioritize candidate landscapes for lesser prairie-chicken conservation

May 14, 2020

Development of systematic methods for conservation planning has improved effectiveness and efficiency of implementing such plans. The lesser prairie-chicken (Tympanuchus pallidicinctus) is a grouse species of conservation concern native to the southwestern Great Plains of the United States. Recent lesser prairie-chicken conservation planning has involved identifying ecologically important areas but has not incorporated economic data into prioritization of areas to target for conservation management.

We used the program Marxan to develop a decision-support tool for managers in Kansas to prioritize tracts for improving lesser prairie-chicken habitat quality and increasing habitat availability. We developed three different conservation scenarios and evaluated the tradeoffs among multiple planning objectives in these scenarios.

We incorporated population targets from an existing conservation plan and agricultural economic data to help select land with maximum ecological value and minimum economic productivity to prioritize for lesser prairie-chicken conservation. We compared potential conservation plans and incorporated a post hoc connectivity model to test potential for individuals to travel among habitat patches in these plans during dispersal events.

We found that different conservation scenarios led to different solutions, though differences varied by ecoregion. Potential solutions for all scenarios contained habitat patches not currently included in existing conservation plans and had high connectivity potential.

These results provide context for spatial prioritization of lesser prairie-chicken habitat management in Kansas. Application of this approach to species of conservation interest could help managers incorporate socioeconomic factors into planning methods and identify important tracts for conservation currently overlooked by existing planning methods.

Publication Year 2020
Title A decision-support tool to prioritize candidate landscapes for lesser prairie-chicken conservation
DOI 10.1007/s10980-020-01024-6
Authors Alexander R. Schindler, David A. Haukos, Christian A. Hagen, Beth Ross
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Landscape Ecology
Index ID 70228556
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Coop Res Unit Atlanta