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Tuesday, January 30 • 3:40pm - 4:00pm
FOREST & GRASSLAND SONGBIRDS: Landscape Genetic Analysis of a Planned Prairie Corridor Through a Midwestern Agricultural Landscape Using the Greater Prairie-Chicken (Tympanuchus cupido) as an Indicator

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AUTHORS. Charlotte L. Roy, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources; Andrew J. Gregory, Bowling Green State University; Eric Nelson, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

ABSTRACT. Grassland habitats in the Midwest are highly fragmented by agriculture and other human land uses. Greater Prairie-chickens (Tympanuchus cupido) are an area-sensitive species that relies on these habitats and are often used as an umbrella species for tallgrass prairie ecosystems. The multi-agency Minnesota Prairie Landscape Conservation Plan aims to create a grassland corridor of ~400 miles through Minnesota between Canada and Iowa, and identifies the Greater Prairie-chicken as one of several indicators to evaluate success. We used a landscape genetic approach to identify landscape features that influence Greater Prairie-chicken movement and to identify gaps in connectivity in the tallgrass prairie of Minnesota. We collected 509 samples through feather collections from leks and submissions of hunter-harvested birds. We amplified samples at 15 microsatellite loci and identified 294 distinct individuals. Genetic analysis indicated good connectivity in the existing range, but that improvements along the planned corridor in the northern portion of the extant range would be beneficial. Landscape attributes that influence connectivity included anthropogenic development, land use, and land cover.  Our landscape genetic approach produced geographically specific recommendations as to where land management can achieve the greatest impact, as well as identified landscape attributes that influence connectivity. This information will help prioritize areas where conservation efforts, like prairie management, acquisition, restoration, and enhancement, will be likely to have the most impact.  Application of landscape genetic approaches can help inform and improve conservation delivery.

Tuesday January 30, 2018 3:40pm - 4:00pm CST