Assessing range-wide habitat suitability for the Lesser Prairie-Chicken

Product Type: 

Journal Article

Year: 

2016

Author(s): 

Jarnevich, C. S., T. R. Holcombe, B. A. Grisham, J. Timmer, C. W. Boal, M. Butler, J. Pitman, S. Kyle, D. Klute, G. Beauprez, A. Janus, and B. Van Pelt.

Suggested Citation: 

Jarnevich, C. S., T. R. Holcombe, B. A. Grisham, J. Timmer, C. W. Boal, M. Butler, J. Pitman, S. Kyle, D. Klute, G. Beauprez, A. Janus, and B. Van Pelt. 2016. Assessing range-wide habitat suitability for the Lesser Prairie-Chicken. Avian Conservation and Ecology 11:2. https://dx.doi.org/10.5751/ACE-00807-110102

Population declines of many wildlife species have been linked to habitat loss incurred through land-use change. Incorporation of conservation planning into development planning may mitigate these impacts. The threatened Lesser Prairie-Chicken (Tympanuchus pallidicinctus) is experiencing loss of native habitat and high levels of energy development across its multijurisdictional range. Our goal was to explore relationships of the species occurrence with landscape characteristics and anthropogenic effects influencing its distribution through evaluation of habitat suitability associated with one particular habitat usage, lekking. Lekking has been relatively well-surveyed, though not consistently, in all jurisdictions. All five states in which Lesser Prairie-Chickens occur cooperated in development of a Maxent habitat suitability model. We created two models, one with state as a factor and one without state. When state was included it was the most important predictor, followed by percent of land cover consisting of known or suspected used vegetation classes within a 5000 m area around a lek. Without state, land cover was the most important predictor of relative habitat suitability for leks. Among the anthropogenic predictors, landscape condition, a measure of human impact integrated across several factors, was most important, ranking third in importance without state. These results quantify the relative suitability of the landscape within the current occupied range of Lesser Prairie-Chickens. These models, combined with other landscape information, form the basis of a habitat assessment tool that can be used to guide siting of development projects and targeting of areas for conservation.

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