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Tuesday, January 30 • 9:00am - 9:20am
UPLAND GAME BIRDS & POLLINATORS: Does Diversity Matter? Ring-necked Pheasant Nest Site Selection and Nest Survival in Grassland Reconstructions

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AUTHORS. Nicole M. Davros, Lindsey N. Messinger - Farmland Wildlife Populations & Research Group, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

ABSTRACT. Ring-necked pheasant (Phasianus colchicus) responses to the amount of grassland acres on the landscape have been well documented but we lack current information on the individual components of reproductive success that help drive pheasant population dynamics in Minnesota. As acres enrolled in private lands conservation programs (e.g., Conservation Reserve Program) continue to decline, it has become more critical to understand the demographics of these populations, especially in the context of habitat management on public lands. Our objective was to evaluate pheasant productivity in relation to within-patch diversity (e.g., sites dominated by smooth brome (Bromus inermis), warm-season grasses, and high-diversity grass/forb mixtures) in grassland reconstructions. From early spring 2015 through spring 2017, we radiocollared 122 hens on 2 project areas in southwestern Minnesota and collected data on nest site selection and nest survival each year. Preliminary analyses using 2015 data showed that all hens selected nest sites with slightly less grass cover, lower species richness, and shallower litter depth compared to random survey points. Hens that successfully hatched nests selected sites with less grass and forb cover but more standing dead vegetation cover, reduced species richness, and reduced vegetation density. Overall, the daily survival rate (DSR) was 0.9406 ± 0.41 (range: 0.8731-0.9729). Future analyses will examine the role of vegetation, spatial (e.g., distance to edge), and temporal (e.g., nest age, ordinal date, year) covariates on nest site selection and nest survival. Our findings will be discussed in the context of habitat management with the goal of helping natural resource managers prioritize grassland management and land acquisition strategies.

Tuesday January 30, 2018 9:00am - 9:20am CST