Tympanuchus phasianellus - (Linnaeus, 1758)
Sharp-tailed Grouse
Other English Common Names: sharp-tailed grouse
Synonym(s): Pedioecetes phasianellus
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Tympanuchus phasianellus (Linnaeus, 1758) (TSN 175841)
French Common Names: tétras à queue fine
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.104212
Element Code: ABNLC13030
Informal Taxonomy: Animals, Vertebrates - Birds - Other Birds
 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Animalia Craniata Aves Galliformes Phasianidae Tympanuchus
Genus Size: B - Very small genus (2-5 species)
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Concept Reference
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Concept Reference: American Ornithologists' Union (AOU). 1998. Check-list of North American birds. Seventh edition. American Ornithologists' Union, Washington, D.C. [as modified by subsequent supplements and corrections published in The Auk]. Also available online: http://www.aou.org/.
Concept Reference Code: B98AOU01NAUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Tympanuchus phasianellus
Taxonomic Comments: T. cupido and T. phasianellus hybridize sporadically, but occasionally they interbreed extensively on a local level (AOU 1983). Genetically, the three species of tympanuchus are not clearly distinct; evidently morphological and behavioral differentiation have progressed rapidly relative to either mtDNA or allozymes (Ellsworth et al. 1994). Six recognized subspecies in North America (AOU 1957, Aldrich 1963). Seventh subspecies HUEYI (formerly New Mexico) extinct since mid-1950s (Dickerman and Hubbard 1994).
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G5
Global Status Last Reviewed: 10Apr2016
Global Status Last Changed: 12Feb2012
Ranking Methodology Used: Ranked by inspection
Rounded Global Status: G5 - Secure
Reasons: Widespread in western North America but has disappeared from large portions of the historic range, due mainly to habitat loss/degradation resulting from agricultural practices, livestock overgrazing, and habitat succession; these threats remain significant.
Nation: United States
National Status: N4 (30Dec1996)
Nation: Canada
National Status: N5 (04Feb2016)

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
United States Alaska (S4), California (SX), Colorado (S2), Idaho (S3), Illinois (SX), Iowa (S1B), Kansas (SX), Michigan (S3S4), Minnesota (SNR), Montana (S1,S4), Navajo Nation (SNR), Nebraska (S4), Nevada (S1), New Mexico (SHB,SHN), North Dakota (SNR), Oklahoma (SX), Oregon (S1), South Dakota (S4), Texas (SX), Utah (S2), Washington (S1S2), Wisconsin (S1), Wyoming (S4)
Canada Alberta (S3S4), British Columbia (S4), Manitoba (S5), Northwest Territories (S5), Nunavut (SU), Ontario (S4), Prince Edward Island (SNA), Quebec (S4), Saskatchewan (S5), Yukon Territory (S3)

Other Statuses

IUCN Red List Category: LC - Least concern

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent: 20,000-2,500,000 square km (about 8000-1,000,000 square miles)
Range Extent Comments: RESIDENT: locally from Alaska, and Yukon east to western Quebec, south to eastern Washington, eastern Oregon, southern Idaho, Utah, Colorado, northeastern New Mexico (at least formerly), Nebraska, eastern South Dakota, eastern North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, northern Michigan; formerly south to southern Oregon, northeastern California, northeastern Nevada, western Kansas, southern Iowa, northern Illinois, and probably northern Texas (AOU 1983, Connelly et al. 1998).

Number of Occurrences: 81 to >300
Number of Occurrences Comments: Originally occupied 21 states and 8 provinces; extirpated this century from 7 (AOU 1998, Connelly et al. 1998). Subspecies CAMPESTRIS: range declined greatly this century. Subspecies COLUMBIANUS: significant regional and local declines and extirpations have occurred; its geographic distribution has contracted by an estimated 90% (Aldrich 1963, Miller and Graul 1980). Today the subspecies exists in substantial numbers only in Colorado and Idaho; exists in only remnant populations in Utah, Washington, Wyoming, and Montana; was extirpated but reintroduced in Oregon and Nevada; and is extirpated in California. Federal listing as "threatened" warranted (USFWS 1999). Subspecies HUEYI: extinct from New Mexico.

Population Size: 10,000 to >1,000,000 individuals
Population Size Comments: No information on northern subspecies. Subspecies COLUMBIANUS: three metapopulations exist, one in Colorado/Wyoming totaling approximately 6,000-8,000 birds, one in Idaho/Utah totaling approximately 20,000-50,000 birds, and one in central British Columbia totaling 4,500-10,000 birds. Other population centers include approximately 600 birds in south-central Idaho/northeast Nevada, a small population of about 50 birds in northeast Oregon, approximately 700 birds occur in scattered small populations in north-central Washington, and two small populations with about 50 birds each in western Montana (USFWS 1999). Overall a current population estimate is 35,000-70,000 individuals, with 50-70% occurring in Idaho (USFWS 1999). Subspecies CAMPESTRIS: populations in Michigan and Wisconsin at low numbers. In Minnesota populations dropped by 53 and 70 percent in the nw and e-c range between 1980-1992 (Berg 1990, Dickson 1993).

Overall Threat Impact Comments: HABITAT: Historic conversion of native habitat to private cultivation is cited as a major contributor to declines (Buss and Dziedzic 1955, Kessler and Bosch 1982). Natural succession of grasslands and shrublands to forests, accelerated or expanded geographically by artificial fire regimes, have influenced habitat quality and populations in several regions. Habitat and distribution is constrained in regions where fire suppression has reduced early and mid-successional vegetation communities. Encroachment of aspen into prairie habitat has reduced the number of leks in southwestern Manitoba (Berger and Baydack 1992). Some types of prairie and shrub-steppe habitats protected from fire are readily colonized by evergreens which degrade habitat quality. Various evergreen trees (PINUS spp., PSEUDOTSUGA MENSEZII, JUNIPERUS spp.), and fewer deciduous species (QUERCUS spp., BETULA spp.) aggressively compete with shrubs, grasses and forbs, and dominate sites contributing to increased avian predation. At the landscape level these vegetation changes fragment and isolate habitats and populations (Berg 1990, Manley and Wood 1990, Dickson 1993). GRAZING: Over-grazing by domestic livestock is the activity most frequently attributed to causing declines, especially where it degrades habitat by reducing residual cover necessary for nesting, brood rearing, and predator evasion (Kessler and Bosch 1982). Kessler and Bosch (1982) surveyed biologists who manage both COLUMBIANUS and JAMESI and found that grazing intensity and subsequent effects on residual cover were overwhelmingly identified as the major conflict in conserving the taxon. HUNTING: Because they display on traditional lek sites during the fall hunting season, may be especially vulnerable to excessive harvest, particularly if the population is low and in fragmented habitats (Klott 1993). Annual harvest rates in Idaho range from approximately 10-30 percent (approximately 6,500 birds) of the total population during the hunting season. Harvest rates in Colorado are not reliable, but are likely less than 10 percent of the total estimated population. Harvest rates in British Columbia may approach 50 percent in some years (Ritcey 1995, USFWS 1999). Range-wide, current harvest estimates vary from 4-56 percent, and at lower population levels may negatively impact some populations (Connelly et al. 1998). However, for relatively large, stable populations hunting is not likely to have an additive effect over natural mortality (Braun et al. 1994). HUMAN DISTURBANCE: At leks, males are tolerant of a variety of disturbances but are displaced by human presence. Females are more susceptible to various types of disturbance than males. Disturbance of leks appears to limit reproductive opportunities and may result in regional population declines (Baydack and Hein 1987). BIOCIDES: Ritcey (1993) relates anecdotal reports of mortalities caused by insecticides and surface application of Compound 1080, a rodenticide. Malathion and dieldrin can also be lethal (McEwen and Brown 1966). The USFWS Contaminant Hazard Review (CHR) series cites possible impacts from zinc phosphide grain bait and toxaphene (Eisler 1995). Others have suggested population declines precipitated by insecticides, causing both direct mortalities and the loss of critical insect food resources (Bown 1980). Herbicide treatments may further fragment native vegetation communities critical as feeding, nesting, and wintering habitat. Reduced herbicide use is recommended to increase plant and insect diversity on margins of agricultural lands (J. W. Connelly, pers. comm.). PREDATION: Local changes in habitat, such as forest encroachment, power pole and fence arrays, and other structures may favor avian predators by providing cover and platforms from which to more effectively hunt. Similarly, decreased availability of nesting or escape cover, or increased travel distance to forage resources, may create less-optimal habitats and increase vulnerability to many sources of predation (Dickson 1993; J. W. Connelly, pers. comm.; A. Sands, pers. comm.). As a ground nester and feeder, adults and young are commonly depredated by various animals. Newly introduced, expanding, subsidized or feral predators such as red fox (VULPES VULPES), raccoon (PROCYON LOTOR), coyote (CANIS LATRANS), plus various mustelids, felines, rodents, corvids, and several larger raptors, have been observed as predators of nests and adults (see Connelly et al. (1998) for a summary of predation). Avian predators have taken significant proportions of radio-marked birds, though this may be an artifact of instrumentation (Gratson 1982, Marks and Marks 1988, Deeble 2000). INBREEDING: The fragmented and isolated nature of many populations is a concern for the species in portions of its range. The deleterious effects of inbreeding and the changes in gene frequencies may pose long-term threats to small, isolated populations, and a reduction in fitness. In the Greater Prairie-Chicken (TYMPANUCHUS CUPIDO PINNATUS), reductions in population size and fitness have been observed concurrent with reductions in genetic diversity; fitness, in the form of restored egg viability, was increased by translocations of individuals from large genetically diverse populations (Westemeier et al. 1998). Several aspects of life history and reproductive behavior predispose the taxon to small effective population size. Annual survival of adult males as determined from lek attendance ranges from 24-47 percent (Brown 1966, Robel et al. 1972, Cope 1992). Polygynous lek breeding system has small proportion of males do the majority of mating (Weddell 1992). This breeding regime skews the sex ratio by limiting the number of males contributing during any breeding season to the gene pool, and reduces effective population size. Naturally occurring impacts and human influences may pose additional threats to these isolated populations. Such events may include drought, fire, inclement weather, accidents, cultivation practices, and hunting (Hart et al. 1950, Rogers 1969, WDFW 1995, Mitchell 1995). Subspecies COLUMBIANUS: unlikely that any one factor has caused observed declines. Starkey and Schnoes (1976) hypothesize that hunting and overgrazing caused historic declines, followed by habitat changes resulting from fire suppression, continued overgrazing, and cultivation. Current loss and degradation of habitat is due to any one or a combination of factors including crop production, livestock grazing, rural and suburban development, dam construction, biocides, fire, drought, recreation and other factors (Hart et al. 1950, Buss and Dziedzic 1955, WDFW 1995, McDonald and Reese 1998, USFWS 1999). If Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) lands important to some populations are put back into crop production, adverse impacts to at least the COLUMBIANUS subspecies will likely occur (USFWS 1999). Subspecies CAMPESTRIS: decline due to vegetation succession, improperly placed conifer plantations, intensive agricultural development, cutting and spraying CRP lands (Hamerstrom and Hamerstrom 1961, Berg 1990).

Short-term Trend: Decline of 10-30%
Short-term Trend Comments: For the period 1966-1995 the North American Breeding Bird Survey indicates no significant rangewide trends. Regional and local declines and extirpations have occurred. Distribution in most parts of southern portion of range now greatly reduced. Originally occupied 21 states and eight provinces; extirpated this century from seven (AOU 1998, Connelly et al. 1998). Populations are known to undergo dramatic population fluctuations (Baydack 1995, Kobriger 1995). A highly significant 7 percent annual decline was detected for Canada, a significant 7.7 percent annual decline was noted for the U.S. western region, and a significant 8.3 percent increase was detected in North Dakota; overall three survey regions showed significant declines, two showed significant increases, and five showed no significant trends (n = 122). During the more recent period 1980-1995 two regions showed significant declines, two showed significant increases, and six regions showed no significant trends (n = 98; Sauer et al. 1996). Populations in southern Canada (except British Columbia), North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, and eastern Montana more secure than other populations; increasing in Idaho and Utah from 1986-1996 (Connelly et al. 1998). Subspecies COLUMBIANUS: Its geographic distribution, which formerly included all states west of the Continental Divide except Arizona and New Mexico, has contracted by an estimated 90 percent (Aldrich 1963, Miller and Graul 1980). Today the subspecies exists in substantial numbers only in Colorado and Idaho; exists in only remnant populations in Utah, Washington, Wyoming, and Montana; was extirpated but reintroduced in Oregon and Nevada; and is extirpated in California. In 1999 only 5 males were observed on a single lek in Montana (L. Young, pers. comm.). A current population estimate is 35,000-70,000 individuals, with 50-70 percent occurring in Idaho (USFWS 1999). Its listing as "threatened" under the Endangered Species Act may be warranted (USFWS 1999). Subspecies CAMPESTRIS: range declined greatly this century; in the late 1980s populations in Michigan and Wisconsin may have stabilized at very low numbers. In Minnesota populations dropped by 53 and 70 percent in the northwest and east-central range between 1980-1992 (Berg 1990, Dickson 1993).

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Distribution
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Global Range: (20,000-2,500,000 square km (about 8000-1,000,000 square miles)) RESIDENT: locally from Alaska, and Yukon east to western Quebec, south to eastern Washington, eastern Oregon, southern Idaho, Utah, Colorado, northeastern New Mexico (at least formerly), Nebraska, eastern South Dakota, eastern North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, northern Michigan; formerly south to southern Oregon, northeastern California, northeastern Nevada, western Kansas, southern Iowa, northern Illinois, and probably northern Texas (AOU 1983, Connelly et al. 1998).

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces

Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
Color legend for Distribution Map
NOTE: The maps for birds represent the breeding status by state and province. In some jurisdictions, the subnational statuses for common species have not been assessed and the status is shown as not-assessed (SNR). In some jurisdictions, the subnational status refers to the status as a non-breeder; these errors will be corrected in future versions of these maps. A species is not shown in a jurisdiction if it is not known to breed in the jurisdiction or if it occurs only accidentally or casually in the jurisdiction. Thus, the species may occur in a jurisdiction as a seasonal non-breeding resident or as a migratory transient but this will not be indicated on these maps. See other maps on this web site that depict the Western Hemisphere ranges of these species at all seasons of the year.
Endemism: occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States AK, CAextirpated, CO, IA, ID, ILextirpated, KSextirpated, MI, MN, MT, ND, NE, NM, NN, NV, OKextirpated, OR, SD, TXextirpated, UT, WA, WI, WY
Canada AB, BC, MB, NT, NU, ON, PEexotic, QC, SK, YT

Range Map
Note: Range depicted for New World only. The scale of the maps may cause narrow coastal ranges or ranges on small islands not to appear. Not all vagrant or small disjunct occurrences are depicted. For migratory birds, some individuals occur outside of the passage migrant range depicted. For information on how to obtain shapefiles of species ranges see our Species Mapping pages at www.natureserve.org/conservation-tools/data-maps-tools.

Range Map Compilers: WILDSPACETM 2002


U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
CO Arapahoe (08005)*, Douglas (08035), Eagle (08037)*, El Paso (08041)*, Elbert (08039)*, Garfield (08045), Grand (08049), La Plata (08067)*, Moffat (08081), Routt (08107), Teller (08119)*
ID Adams (16003), Bannock (16005), Bear Lake (16007), Bingham (16011), Blaine (16013), Bonneville (16019), Caribou (16029), Cassia (16031), Clark (16033), Franklin (16041), Fremont (16043), Jerome (16053), Madison (16065), Minidoka (16067), Oneida (16071), Owyhee (16073), Power (16077), Teton (16081), Twin Falls (16083), Washington (16087)
MI Alger (26003), Chippewa (26033), Delta (26041), Luce (26095), Mackinac (26097), Ontonagon (26131), Schoolcraft (26153)
NE Boyd (31015), Brown (31017), Cherry (31031), Holt (31089), Keya Paha (31103), Knox (31107)
OR Baker (41001)*, Harney (41025)*, Sherman (41055)*, Union (41061)*, Wallowa (41063)*
UT Box Elder (49003), Cache (49005), Morgan (49029), Weber (49057)
WA Adams (53001), Asotin (53003), Chelan (53007), Columbia (53013), Douglas (53017), Ferry (53019), Franklin (53021), Garfield (53023), Grant (53025), Kittitas (53037), Lincoln (53043), Okanogan (53047), Pend Oreille (53051), Spokane (53063), Stevens (53065), Walla Walla (53071), Whitman (53075)
WI Bayfield (55007), Burnett (55013), Douglas (55031), Jackson (55053), Price (55099), Rusk (55107), Taylor (55119), Wood (55141)
WY Carbon (56007)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
04 Beartrap-Nemadji (04010301)+, Ontonagon (04020102)+, Betsy-Chocolay (04020201)+, Tahquamenon (04020202)+, Waiska (04020203)+, Tacoosh-Whitefish (04030111)+, Fishdam-Sturgeon (04030112)+, Manistique (04060106)+, Brevoort-Millecoquins (04060107)+, St. Marys (04070001)+, Carp-Pine (04070002)+
07 Upper St. Croix (07030001)+, Namekagon (07030002)+, Lower St. Croix (07030005)+, Black (07040007)+, Upper Chippewa (07050001)+, Flambeau (07050002)+, South Fork Flambeau (07050003)+, Jump (07050004)+, Lower Chippewa (07050005)+, Castle Rock (07070003)+
10 Ponca (10150001)+, Middle Niobrara (10150004)+, Lower Niobrara (10150007)+, Upper South Platte (10190002)+, Middle South Platte-Cherry Creek (10190003)+*, Kiowa (10190010)+*
11 Upper Arkansas (11020002)+*
14 Colorado headwaters (14010001)+, Eagle (14010003)+*, Colorado headwaters-Plateau (14010005)+, Upper Yampa (14050001)+, Lower Yampa (14050002)+, Little Snake (14050003)+, Muddy (14050004)+, Animas (14080104)+*
16 Bear Lake (16010201)+, Middle Bear (16010202)+, Little Bear-Logan (16010203)+, Lower Bear-Malad (16010204)+, Lower Weber (16020102)+, Curlew Valley (16020309)+
17 Lower Spokane (17010307)+, Little Spokane (17010308)+, Franklin D. Roosevelt Lake (17020001)+, Kettle (17020002)+, Sanpoil (17020004)+, Chief Joseph (17020005)+, Okanogan (17020006)+, Similkameen (17020007)+, Methow (17020008)+, Upper Columbia-Entiat (17020010)+, Moses Coulee (17020012)+, Upper Crab (17020013)+, Banks Lake (17020014)+, Lower Crab (17020015)+, Upper Yakima (17030001)+, Palisades (17040104)+, Idaho Falls (17040201)+, Upper Henrys (17040202)+, Lower Henrys (17040203)+, Teton (17040204)+, Willow (17040205)+, American Falls (17040206)+, Blackfoot (17040207)+, Portneuf (17040208)+, Lake Walcott (17040209)+, Raft (17040210)+, Upper Snake-Rock (17040212)+, Salmon Falls (17040213)+, Beaver-Camas (17040214)+, Bruneau (17050102)+, Middle Snake-Payette (17050115)+, Payette (17050122)+, Weiser (17050124)+, Brownlee Reservoir (17050201)+, Burnt (17050202)+*, Imnaha (17060102)+*, Lower Snake-Asotin (17060103)+, Upper Grande Ronde (17060104)+*, Wallowa (17060105)+*, Lower Grande Ronde (17060106)+*, Lower Snake-Tucannon (17060107)+, Palouse (17060108)+, Rock (17060109)+, Lower Snake (17060110)+, Walla Walla (17070102)+, Middle Columbia-Hood (17070105)+*, Lower Deschutes (17070306)+*, Harney-Malheur Lakes (17120001)+*
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
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Basic Description: A large bird (grouse).
Reproduction Comments: Breeding begins in early April in the south to early May in north. Males engage in communal courtship displays at leks. Polygynous. Nest and young are tended by female. Brood disperses in 6-8 weeks. Clutch size averages 11-12 eggs (Hamerstrom 1939, Hart et al. 1950, Meints 1991, Cope 1992). Incubation period 21-23 days. May renest if first clutch is destroyed.
Ecology Comments: Males employ elaborate courtship displays in the spring to attract females to central communal display grounds called leks. Males remain near leks April- May, and again during October to establish territories. In Manitoba, leks averaged 2.2 kilometers apart (Baydack 1988). Because of their importance, leks and their surrounding area are the principal units affecting demographics (Connelly et al. 1998).

Size of spring/autumn home ranges varies from 13 to 406 hectares (summarized by Connelly et al. 1998). In western Idaho, summer home range averaged 190 hectares (Saab and Marks 1992). The areas used are usually within a few kilometers of a lek. Seasonal movements to wintering areas from breeding grounds are usually less than 5 kilometers (Giesen and Connelly 1993), but can be up to 20 kilometers in Idaho (Meints 1991). Estimated densities range from 0.6-4.4 individuals per square kilometer (Connelly et al. 1998).

Feeds mainly on ground during spring, summer, and fall (Hart et al. 1950). Feeds in daytime; greater foraging activity in early morning and late evening during spring, summer, and fall; in winter, feeds throughout day. Gathers in flocks in fall and winter (Hart et al. 1950).

Non-Migrant: Y
Locally Migrant: N
Long Distance Migrant: N
Mobility and Migration Comments: Spring-to-fall home range sizes are relatively small, generally less than 2 kilometers radius around leks. Seasonal movements to wintering areas from breeding grounds are typically less than 5-6.5 kilometers around leks (Meints 1991, Prose 1987, Giesen and Connelly 1993), but movements of up to several kilometers between seasonal habitats have been reported (Godfrey 1966, Prose 1987). In winter, birds may migrate to higher elevations than breeding habitat if woody cover and forage is available (Ulliman 1995). Longer distance movements have been documented in translocated birds, and inferred from historical accounts of "invasions" (Edminster 1954, Shiller 1973, Sisson 1976, Caldwell 1976, Giesen 1987).
Palustrine Habitat(s): Riparian
Terrestrial Habitat(s): Cropland/hedgerow, Grassland/herbaceous, Savanna, Shrubland/chaparral, Woodland - Conifer, Woodland - Hardwood
Habitat Comments: Requires a mosaic of dense grass and shrubs with rich forb and insect foods during nesting and brood-rearing. During winter often relies on riparian areas and other sites that support deciduous trees and shrub for feeding, roosting, and escape cover; also utilizes non-native cultivated grains and hedgerow species. Natural succession of grasslands and shrublands to forests, accelerated or expanded geographically by artificial fire regimes, have influenced habitat quality and populations in several regions. Habitat and distribution is constrained in regions where fire suppression has reduced early and mid-successional vegetation communities. Habitat relationships have been well documented in numerous studies (Parker 1970, Oedekoven 1985, Marks and Marks 1987, Marks and Marks 1988, Prose 1987, Berg 1990, Weddell 1992, Cope 1992).

GRAZING: In general, selects vegetative communities least modified by livestock grazing (Marks and Marks 1987, Saab and Marks 1992). Documented avoidance of nest initiation in pastures occupied by livestock (Sedivec 1994).

LEKKING: Leks may be located on mowed wet meadows, cattle-trampled areas, low ridges and knolls, recent burns, forest clearcuts, shorelines, natural openings, and other areas with low sparse vegetation allowing good visibility and unrestricted movement, especially areas near dense herbaceous vegetation (Prose 1987, Deeble 1996). Established leks may be used for many years, although their exact location may shift over time and smaller satellite leks often form in the vicinity of historic leks (USFWS 1999). Key characteristics of leks in Manitoba were elevated sites with wide viewing horizons (low or sparse vegetation) and nearby escape cover (Baydack 1988, Berger and Baydack 1992). Leks form hub of breeding habitat and usually occur on elevated areas, but lower areas are also used. Leks sometimes association with disturbed sites and often on sites with less vegetation than surrounding areas with little slope (Connelly et al. 1998).

NESTING: Nests have been detected 50-1,600 meters from leks, with 75 percent within 1 kilometer of a lek site (Prose 1987, Saab and Marks 1992, Giesen and Connelly 1993). Nest sites dominated by relatively dense herbaceous cover and shrubs, but key species of vegetation vary considerably (Connelly et al. 1998). High-quality nesting habitat provided by structural diversity, including stand of grasses, shrubs, and forbs (Meints et al. 1992). Relatively dense residual herbaceous vegetation that provides good visual obstruction to a height of 15-30 centimeters is important nesting habitat (Prose 1987, Connelly et al. 1998).

BROOD REARING: Broods depend on areas with abundant forbs and insects.

WINTER: Availability of suitable winter habitat and forage may be the most critical component in determining the ability of an area to support the species (Prose 1987, Marks and Marks 1988, Saab and Marks 1992). Winter habitat requirements are relatively narrow, and are associated with riparian and upland areas with deciduous shrub and tree cover (Giesen and Connelly 1993). Marks and Marks (1988) found mountain shrub, deciduous shrub, and riparian cover types to be critical sources of winter food and thermal and escape cover. Prairie populations use aspen-dominated (POPULUS spp.) areas in winter for cover, roosting, and as a food source; also croplands and shrub areas (Dickson 1993). Often use snow or wetland vegetation as roosting cover (Gratson 1988).

For subspecies COLUMBIANUS, bunchgrasses (AGROPYRON spp., FESTUCA spp. ELYMUS spp.), sagebrush (ARTEMESIA spp.) and well-developed forbs (ACHILLEA spp., TRAGOPOGON spp., BALSAMORHIZA spp.) are important components of nesting and brood-rearing, possibly because the growth forms and structural diversity offer a combination of visual obstruction and visibility that provides escape cover while allowing approaching predators to be detected (Parker 1970; Oedekoven 1985, Marks and Marks 1987, Saab and Marks 1992, Weddell 1992). Canopy cover of 9 percent shrubs, 30 percent forbs, and 30 percent grasses reported for western Idaho (Marks and Marks 1987). In Wyoming broods occur most often in mountain shrub and sagebrush-snowberry (ARTEMESIA- SYMPHORICARPOS) habitats (Klott and Lindzey 1990). Important areas also include farm fields and cultivated crops (Hamerstrom 1963, Hillman and Jackson 1973, Sisson 1976, Meints 1991).

Subspecies COLUMBIANUS favors mesic shrub-steppe and grasslands, particularly in vegetative associations of fescue-wheatgrass (FESTUCA-AGROPYRON) and sagebrush-grass (ARTEMESIA-AGROPYRON; Kessler and Bosch 1982). Habitat in Great Plains region tends to be more grassy and less shrubby than that in Great Lakes states (Prose 1987). Pure stands of any single community do not seem optimum (Starkey and Schnoes 1976). Habitat use varies significantly between sites and seasons. In western Idaho preferred big sagebrush (ARTEMESIA TRIDENTATA) habitats with moderate vegetative cover, high plant species diversity, and high structural diversity (Saab and Marks 1992).

Adult Food Habits: Frugivore, Granivore, Herbivore, Invertivore
Immature Food Habits: Frugivore, Granivore, Herbivore, Invertivore
Food Comments: Forages on ground for succulent insects, forbs, grasses and seeds; also in shrubs or trees on fruits and buds (Grange 1948, Hillman and Jackson 1973, Prose 1987, Ulliman 1995). Roughly 90 percent or more is plant material; 10 percent (up to 40 percent in summer) of adult bird's diet is insects (HYMENOPTERA, ORTHOPTERA, LEPIDOPTERA; Bent 1932, Prose 1987). Observation in captivity indicates that for the first few weeks chicks are almost entirely insectivorous (Merker 1996). During winter may confine most foraging activity to shrub, hardwood draws, riparian forest, orchards, or hedgerows (Swenson 1985, Schneider 1994, Ulliman 1995). Buds of serviceberry (AMELANCHIER ALNIFOLIA), chokecherry (PRUNUS VIRGINIANA), aspen (POPULUS spp.), and fruits of hawthorn (CRATAEGUS DOUGLASSII), buffaloberry (SHEPERDIA ARGENTEA), Russian olive (ELEAGNUS ANGUSTIFOLIA), snowberry (SYMPHORICARPOS spp.) and rose (ROSA spp.) are primary winter foods. Extensive winter feeding on buds and catkins of birch (BETULA spp.) and some willow (SALIX spp.; Zeigler 1979, Ritcey 1995, Deeble 1996). No regular association with free water; most dietary water probably obtained from food items, snow, dew. For a further summary of diet information see Connelly et al. (1998).
Adult Phenology: Diurnal
Immature Phenology: Diurnal
Colonial Breeder: Y
Length: 43 centimeters
Weight: 953 grams
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
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Management Summary
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Stewardship Overview: Optimum habitat consists of a mosaic of grass, deciduous trees, various shrub and shrub/grass communities. Historically occupied twenty-nine states and provinces; extirpated from seven during 20th century, with greatly reduced abundance and distribution over much remaining range. Conversion of native grassland to agriculture and intensive livestock grazing, succession of grassland to dense forest accelerated by fire suppression, and isolation are the principle threats to remaining habitats and populations. Some populations have responded positively to creation of large dense grasslands on retired agricultural lands. Regular censusing of breeding leks is critical to tracking population trends.
Restoration Potential: Benefits greatly from rehabilitation of grassland and shrubland to its native composition and condition, or to structural and forage conditions mimicking native condition. Nesting and brood habitat quality can be restored by better management or elimination of livestock grazing to maximize residual vegetation, and by conversion of croplands to mixed-grasslands comprised of grasses, forbs, and shrubs.
Preserve Selection & Design Considerations: Leks are important because they are essential to reproduction, and of use in monitoring population trends (Giesen and Connelly 1993). Translocated birds have been reported to have an unexplained tendency to establish leks at historic lek locations, sometimes years after lek abandonment. Thus, currently vacant lek sites could be important to future reestablishment; protecting such sites should be an additional focus of a conservation strategy (A. Sands, pers. comm.; M. Wood, pers. comm.; Deeble 1996; Merker 1996). The area within 2.5 kilometers of an active breeding lek is believed to be critical to management of nesting and brood-rearing habitats (Saab and Marks 1992, Giesen and Connelly 1993). Deciduous shrub habitats used during winter should be within 6 kilometers of breeding habitat (Prose 1987, Toepfer et al. 1990, Meints et al. 1992). Minimum total habitat area necessary for successful population persistance or reintroduction has been suggested to approach 30 square kilometers; 33 percent should be undisturbed grass-shrub habitat in early to mid-successional stages; remainder can be composed of cropland, pasture, and grazed uplands. Grassland may require periodic disturbance to prevent succession to dense forest (Berg 1990, Deeble 1996).
Management Requirements: HABITAT: Habitat suitability index (HSI) procedures developed and evaluated for subspecies JAMESI and COLUMBIANUS (Prose 1987, Meints et al. 1992, Merker 1996, Gardner 1997). Populations generally respond to habitat management practices that increase or protect food sources, as well as nesting and winter habitats. Habitat can be developed on cultivated land by planting grass (AGROPYRON spp., FESTUCA spp., ELYMUS spp., POA spp., BROMUS spp.) and forbs such as alfalfa (MEDICAGO spp.) and sweet clover (MELILOTUS spp.). Grasslands should not be mowed or grazed if they are to be managed for grouse. Providing short-term winter forage in the form of domestic grains where native forage species have been degraded may improve local over-winter survival. Small 1-2 hectare food plots of grains such as wheat, barley, or oats can be left standing. Placing artificial forage resources near escape cover is essential. Long-term winter forage improvement will requires the rehabilitation of the native shrub community, particularly that of riparian areas (Connelly and Sands 1995). Restoration of hawthorn (CRATAEGUS DOUGLASSII), chokecherry (PRUNUS VIRGINIANA), serviceberry (AMELANCHIER ALNIFOLIA), birch (BETULA spp.), and other shrub provides critical winter forage and shelter.

CONSERVATION RESERVE PROGRAM (CRP): Since 1985, large portions of privately owned lands have been withdrawn from crop production and planted to native and non-native grasses, forbs, and shrubs under the federal Conservation Reserve Program (CRP; USDA 1998). Establishment of permanent cover on idle cropland under the CRP program has been used to significantly enhance and enlarge suitable habitat (Sirotnak et al. 1991, Giesen and Connelly 1993) particularly important to the subspecies COLUMBIANUS in Colorado, Idaho, Oregon, Utah, and Washington (USFWS 1999).

PREDATION: Most managers do not consider direct predator control an effective conservation tool (Deeble 1996, Schroeder et al. 1999). However, where predation rates are unsustainable, reducing artificial predator subsidies (den sites, carrion, farm wastes, and hunting platforms), combined with focused direct controls, may offer both immediate and longer-term protection to remnant or reintroduced populations.

HUNTING: Closed hunting seasons are recommended for small, isolated, or declining populations (Ammann 1963, Marks and Marks 1987).

GRAZING: Brood habitats are optimized where heavy livestock grazing is avoided to maintain vegetative species diversity of forbs and grasses (Klott and Lindzey 1990). In places, reformed grazing practices have been credited with local improvements in habitat (J. Anderson pers. comm., V. Coggins pers. comm.).

BURNING: At proper frequencies and scales, fire can improve habitat. Fire should be used to maintain a vigorous subclimax condition (Kirsch et al. 1973). Controlled burns are prescribed in areas otherwise prone to successional colonization by trees (Dickson 1993). In shrub-steppe habitat in western Montana, where fire has not been an acceptable treatment method, cutting of encroaching evergreen trees is being used to enhance habitat for an isolated population (Neudecker, pers. comm.). Fire suppression is advised for areas where burns are predicted to degrade habitat values, particularly the availability of critical shrub and residual cover (Schroeder pers. comm.).

REINTRODUCTION/SUPPLEMENTATION: Reintroduction record is poor when it comes to establishing populations in unoccupied habitat. Many past reintroduction efforts have failed to produce self-sustaining populations or increase the size or distribution of augmented populations. Reintroduction techniques, however, have improved. Successful restoration is significantly increased when a project is long-term, releases over 100 birds during the spring, and employs a soft-release technique (Snyder et al. 1999). Translocation to active leks, prompt transportation, and matching the ecotype of the source population to that of the release sites are also important factors (Toepfer et al. 1990, Hoffman et al. 1992, Connelly et al. 1998). Hybridization of different populations or subspecies may be a concern for reintroduction efforts (Deeble 2000). A population size of at least 100 males has been observed as the minimum necessary for persistence of populations (Toepfer et al. 1990); minimum area necessary for successful reintroduction is 30 square kilometers (Toepfer et al. 1990, Meints et al. 1992).

Summarized guidelines for land management practices within subspecies COLUMBIANUS occupied habitat and "breeding complexes" (area within 2 kilometers radius of leks) include: prohibit disturbances within the breeding complex during the breeding season (Mar-June); avoid manipulation or alteration of vegetation within the breeding complex during the nesting period; do not reduce height, canopy cover, or density of shrub species locally important for nesting or within 100 meters of streams; in bunchgrass-prairie communities, adequate height-density (Robel pole x = 2.5 decimeters) of residual grasses should be maintained for nesting; livestock use of riparian areas should be managed or eliminated to minimize destruction of associated shrubs and trees; avoid herbicide application, burning, or mechanical destruction that results in long-term reduction of shrub habitats; management practices to rejuvenate or increase shrub communities within breeding complexes or winter ranges should be restricted to less than 25 percent of this cover type annually (Robel et al. 1970, Giesen and Connelly 1993). Initial efforts at captive-breeding subspecies COLUMBIANUS for release into the wild has been attempted, with mixed results (Merker 1996).

See Berg (1990) for general management recommendations for subspecies CAMPESTRIS in the western Great Lakes states.

Monitoring Requirements: There are currently no standardized protocols for inventory and monitoring. Although protocols vary, many states undertake regular lek surveys and other survey efforts. Counting individuals at leks is the easiest way to track population trends. Wildlife agencies should monitor leks because their size and densities provide an index to populations and indirectly reflect changes in habitat quality (Cannon and Knopf 1981, Giesen and Connelly 1993). Lek activity is highest during early April to mid-May, then again, but at reduced levels, in mid-October. Counts should be made near dawn during good weather on two or more days to improve census reliability. Males are distinguished from females by behavior. Surveys to document new or previously unknown leks should be undertaken by listening for lek vocalizations at dawn during spring or fall lekking activities, tape playback, or by searching suitable habitat with trained dogs. Twenty-one previously unknown leks comprised of at least 200 individuals of subspecies COLUMBIANUS were documented using above methods in southeastern Idaho in 1998 (Deeble 1998). Radio monitoring is used to document movements, survival, home range, reproductive success, and habitat selection (Meints et al. 1992, Gardner 1997, Deeble 2000).
Management Research Needs: Because morphometric and plumage distinctions are often too subtle to allow subspecies assignment in the field, management decisions relating to taxonomy are often made based on less-reliable geographic range, or habitat affinity (Wright, pers. comm.; Eng, pers. comm.); more reliable field methods need to be developed for confirming subspecies taxonomy, particularly where population supplementation is being considered. Also the lack of sufficient data with respect to the genetic integrity populations is a concern (Saab and Marks 1992).

Given the large-scale declines in the CAMPESTRIS and COLUMBIANUS subspecies, effective management strategies need development to stabilize and increase these populations (Connelly et al. 1998). Continue efforts to locate lek sites and critical wintering areas, using increased effort and improved survey methods. Research is needed to improve our knowledge of the effect of harvesting throughout its range (Connelly et al. 1998).

Biological Research Needs: Basic research on behavior, predation, genetics, and other aspects of life history and biology are needed. Also need more information on population demographics, juvenile mortality, and the production level needed for a stable or increasing population. There is little information regarding what degree of genetic divergence, if any, is detectable between subspecies. It has been proposed that a range-wide analysis of isozymes and mtDNA be undertaken (Toepfer 1988). For relevent information on genetics of TYMPANUCHUS spp. and other species see Gutierrez et al. (1983), Parkin (1987), Quinn and White (1987), Evans (1987), Leberg (1991), Gyllensten et al. (1985), Ellsworth et al. (1993), Ellsworth et al. (1994), and Oyler-McCance et al. (in press).
Population/Occurrence Delineation
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Group Name: Grouse and Ptarmigan

Use Class: Not applicable
Subtype(s): Lek, Nesting Area, Nesting Season Foraging Area, Nonbreeding Habitat, Year-round Habitat
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: Evidence of historical presence, or current and likely recurring presence, at a given location, minimally a reliable observation of one or more birds in appropriate habitat.
Mapping Guidance: To the extent possible and practicable, occurrences should encompass the annual range of a population. If winter and summer ranges are distinctly separate, map using separate polygons. If they are more than 15 kilometers apart, separate breeding and nonbreeding occurrences should be created.
Separation Barriers: None.
Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 15 km
Separation Justification: Unsuitable habitat includes open water as well as other habitats through or over which birds may travel but in which they do not nest or forage much if at all.

Occurrences are difficult to circumscribe because most species are partially migratory (i.e., some individuals migrate small or large distances whereas others are relatively sedentary) (see Schroeder and Braun 1993). Migrations may extend up to 12 kilometers in Blue Grouse (Pelren 1996), up to about 40 km (usually less than 25 km) in Greater Prairie-Chickens in Colorado (Schroeder and Braun 1993), and up to 170 km in Greater Prairie-Chickens in Wisconsin.

Adult male (and probably adult female) Lesser Prairie-Chickens have high fidelity to breeding leks (Giesen 1998), and some leks have persisted more than 30 to 40 years (Copelin 1963, Giesen 1998). Largest individual home ranges recorded are of males in winter; in Texas, these ranged from 331-1945 hectares (n = 4; Taylor and Guthery 1980a). Maximum movements between spring leks and late-fall relocations was 20.8 kilometers for subadults and 3.2 kilometers for adults (Campbell 1970). Combined home ranges of males and females associated with breeding leks ranged from 25.2 to 61.9 square kilometers (minimum convex polygon) in Colorado (n = 4 leks; Giesen 1991).

Female Greater Prairie-Chickens (T. c. attwateri) had winter home ranges as large as 910 hectares (Horkel 1979). Median female home range in late spring was 266 hectares (Schroeder 1991).

Summer home ranges of sharp-tailed grouse range from 13 to 406 hectares (summarized by Connelly 1998). Individuals generally fly less than 5 kilometers to a winter range (Giesen and Connelly 1993), but can fly up to 20 kilometers (Meints 1991). Some ptarmigan (e.g. Rock in northern North America) can be considered migratory.

Greater Sage-Grouse: average nest to lek distance about 3 kilometers (Connelly et al. 2000).

Separation distance is somewhat arbitrary and is less than the extent of known seasonal movements of some species. However, a longer separation distance in many cases likely would yield unreasonably large occurrences or, for some species, might join separate populations as single occurrences. Note that locations separated by a gap exceeding the separation distance should be treated as the same occurrence if there is evidence indicating that such patches encompass the same population (e.g., individuals are known to migrate between the patches).

Date: 26Apr2004
Author: Hammerson, G., and S. Cannings
Population/Occurrence Viability
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U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
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Authors/Contributors
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NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 31Dec1999
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Deeble, B.; revisions by M. Koenen and D.W. Mehlman
Management Information Edition Date: 02Feb2000
Management Information Edition Author: DEEBLE, B.; REVISIONS BY M. KOENEN AND D.W. MEHLMAN
Management Information Acknowledgments: This abstract draws heavily from Connelly et al. (1998), a comprehensive and excellent review of the species. The author thanks the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks; BLM Garnet District; and USFWS Benton Lakes for their support of research on remnant populations in western Montana, and to the Idaho Department of Fish and Game for their ongoing research and restoration assistance for subspecies COLUMBIANUS throughout its range. Funding for the preparation of this abstract was made possible by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Division of Endangered Species.
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 31Dec1999
Element Ecology & Life History Author(s): DEEBLE, B.; REVISIONS BY M. KOENEN AND D.W. MEHLMAN

Zoological data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs) and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

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