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Tuesday, January 30 • 4:40pm - 5:00pm
FOREST & GRASSLAND SONGBIRDS: Effects of Anthropogenic Structures on the Long-Distance Movements of Lesser Prairie-Chickens

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AUTHORS. Jacob Peterson, Oklahoma State University; Julia Earl, Louisiana Tech University; Sam Fuhlendorf, Oklahoma State University; Dwayne Elmore, Oklahoma State University; David Haukos, U.S. Geological Survey, Kansas Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Kansas State University; Ashley M. Tanner, Oklahoma State University; Scott Carleton, U.S. Geological Survey, New Mexico Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, New Mexico State University

ABSTRACT. In increasingly fragmented landscapes, connectivity among populations is an important concern. Long distance movements, including dispersal, exploratory loops, and movements between home ranges, can contribute to fitness and population persistence through increased resource availability and genetic dispersal. As spatial separation of a populations increases, questions concerning how species utilize and interact with their environment during long distance movement are inherent to their conservation. Lesser prairie-chickens (Tympanuchus pallidicinctus) are a grassland obligate species that have been impacted by land use change and fragmentation of contiguous native prairie.  Densities of different anthropogenic structures (i.e., towers, oil wells, roads, powerlines, and fences) varies across regions and movement types. Movements of 344 birds were obtained using satellite GPS transmitters across their distribution in western Kansas, Oklahoma panhandle, eastern Colorado, and southeast New Mexico between 2013 and 2016. In preliminary analysis, 85 individuals made 184 long-distance movements. Effects of anthropogenic structures were assessed along long-distance movement tracts and areas surrounding the home ranges of individuals. Cumulative distribution functions were used to test for selection or avoidance of the different features across multiple scales and subcategories (i.e., study region and movement type). Analyses suggest lesser prairie-chickens show avoidance of towers and oil wells. By comparing the results for analyses on multiple scales, the distance of avoidance for the feature type generally decreases as the buffer of availability around movement tracts increases. Further analyses will examine the drivers of this trend and whether feature density has an impact on avoidance. These results are important to understand possible barriers or obstacles to long-distance movements and ensure connectivity among populations for the conservation of this species.

Tuesday January 30, 2018 4:40pm - 5:00pm CST