The endangered Whooping Crane (Grus americana) historically had a wide distribution that covered diverse ecoregions across North America while retaining consistent habitat preferences within each ecoregion. We reevaluate the historic information compiled by Robert Porter Allen in 1952 and added 74 other records. Based on the ecological features of historic locations relative to crane life history, we revisit Allen’s description of the whooping crane’s niche and identify four features common to breeding and wintering areas: (1) gentle to rolling topography with an interspersion of wetland and prairie habitats, and relatively sparse cover of trees and shrubs; (2) high densities of shallow, open wetlands or wetland complexes; (3) hydrological regimes that provide reliable conditions for nesting, brood rearing, and flightless adults; and (4) high plant and animal productivity due to fertile soils, hydrological pulsing, periodic inflow of nutrients, or other periodic perturbations. Accurate determination of the ecological features that compose Whooping Crane habitats should stimulate renewed discussions about habitat requirements and can support development of improved reintroduction strategies for the long-term success of recovery efforts.
|Title||Revisiting the historic distribution and habitats of the Whooping Crane|
|Authors||Jane E. Austin, Matthew A. Hayes, Jeb A. Barzen|
|Publication Type||Book Chapter|
|Publication Subtype||Book Chapter|
|Record Source||USGS Publications Warehouse|
|USGS Organization||Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center|