Authors: E. K. Lyons, B. A Collier, N. J. Silvy, R. R. Lopez, B. E., Toole, R. S. Jones, S. J. DeMaso

Lesser prairie-chickens Tympanuchus pallidicinctus have declined throughout their range because of loss or fragmentation of habitat from conversion of native prairie to agricultural cropland, exacerbated by overgrazing and drought. We used data from radio-marked lesser prairie-chickens to determine whether differences in survival existed between populations occurring in two areas dominated by different vegetation types (sand sagebrush Artemisia filifolia vs shinnery oak Quercus havardii) in the Texas Panhandle from 2001 through 2005. We used a model-selection approach to evaluate potential generalities in lesser prairie-chicken survival. Our results indicated that survival of lesser prairie-chickens differed between breeding and non-breeding periods, and between study populations. We estimated annual survival of lesser prairie-chickens at 0.52 (95% CI: 0.32-0.71) in the sand sagebrush and 0.31 (95% CI: 0.12-0.58) in the shinnery oak vegetation type. Our results suggest that demographic differences in lesser prairie-chicken within sand sagebrush and shinnery oak vegetation types throughout the Texas Panhandle should be evaluated, especially during the breeding season. Based on our results, higher mortality of birds during the breeding season illustrates the need to manage for vegetation components such as sand sagebrush and residual bunchgrasses as opposed to shinnery oak such that potential breeding season mortality may be lessened.

Suggested Citation

Lyons, E. K., B. A Collier, N. J. Silvy, R. R. Lopez, B. E., Toole, R. S. Jones, and S. J. DeMaso. 2009. Breeding and non-breeding survival of Lesser Prairie-Chickens in Texas. Wildlife Biology 15:1-8