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Sandhill crane roost selection, human disturbance, and forage resources

January 18, 2017

Sites used for roosting represent a key habitat requirement for many species of birds because availability and quality of roost sites can influence individual fitness. Birds select roost sites based on numerous factors, requirements, and motivations, and selection of roosts can be dynamic in time and space because of various ecological and environmental influences. For sandhill cranes (Antigone canadensis) at their main spring-staging area along the Platte River in south-central Nebraska, USA, past investigations of roosting cranes focused on physical channel characteristics related to perceived security as motivating roost distribution. We used 6,310 roost sites selected by 313 sandhill cranes over 5 spring migration seasons (2003–2007) to quantify resource selection functions of roost sites on the central Platte River using a discrete choice analysis. Sandhill cranes generally showed stronger selection for wider channels with shorter bank vegetation situated farther from potential human disturbance features such as roads, bridges, and dwellings. Furthermore, selection for roost sites with preferable physical characteristics (wide channels with short bank vegetation) was more resilient to nearby disturbance features than more narrow channels with taller bank vegetation. The amount of cornfields surrounding sandhill crane roost sites positively influenced relative probability of use but only for more narrow channels < 100 m and those with shorter bank vegetation. We confirmed key resource features that sandhill cranes selected at river channels along the Platte River, and after incorporating spatial variation due to human disturbance, our understanding of roost site selection was more robust, providing insights on how disturbance may interact with physical habitat features. Managers can use information on roost-site selection when developing plans to increase probability of crane use at existing roost sites and to identify new areas for potential use if existing sites become limited.

Publication Year 2017
Title Sandhill crane roost selection, human disturbance, and forage resources
DOI 10.1002/jwmg.21215
Authors Aaron T. Pearse, Gary Krapu, David A. Brandt
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Journal of Wildlife Management
Index ID 70180053
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center