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A multispecies approach to manage effects of land cover and weather on upland game birds

December 1, 2020

Loss and degradation of grasslands in the Great Plains region have resulted in major declines in abundance of grassland bird species. To ensure future viability of grassland bird populations, it is crucial to evaluate specific effects of environmental factors among species to determine drivers of population decline and develop effective conservation strategies. We used threshold models to quantify the effects of land cover and weather changes in "lesser prairie-chicken" and "greater prairie-chicken" (Tympanuchus pallidicinctus and T. cupido, respectively), northern bobwhites (Colinus virginianus), and ring-necked pheasants (Phasianus colchicus). We demonstrated a novel approach for estimating landscape conditions needed to optimize abundance across multiple species at a variety of spatial scales. Abundance of all four species was highest following wet summers and dry winters. Prairie chicken and ring-necked pheasant abundance was highest following cool winters, while northern bobwhite abundance was highest following warm winters. Greater prairie chicken and northern bobwhite abundance was also highest following cooler summers. Optimal abundance of each species occurred in landscapes that represented a grassland and cropland mosaic, though prairie chicken abundance was optimized in landscapes with more grassland and less edge habitat than northern bobwhites and ring-necked pheasants. Because these effects differed among species, managing for an optimal landscape for multiple species may not be the optimal scenario for any one species.

Publication Year 2020
Title A multispecies approach to manage effects of land cover and weather on upland game birds
DOI 10.1002/ece3.7034
Authors A.R. Schindler, David A. Haukos, C.A. Hagen, Beth Ross
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Ecology and Evolution
Index ID 70228975
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Coop Res Unit Atlanta; Kansas Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit