Date of Award:

5-2009

Document Type:

Dissertation

Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department:

Wildland Resources

Advisor/Chair:

Terry A. Messmer

Abstract

We estimated survival of ~ 1-day-old chicks to 42 days based on radio-marked individuals for the Parker Mountain greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) population. Chick survival was relatively high (low estimate of 0.41 and high estimate of 0.50) compared to other studies. Brood-mixing occurred for 21 % of radio-marked chicks, and within 43 % of radio-marked broods. Our study showed that brood-mixing may be an important ecological strategy for sage-grouse, because chicks that brood-mixed experienced higher survival. Additionally, modeling of chick survival suggested that arthropod abundance is important during the early brood-rearing period (1 - 21 days). We also used life-cycle modeling (perturbation analyses and Life Table Response Experiments) to assess the importance of various vital rates within this population. We determined that adult hen survival and production (chick and fledgling survival) had the most influence on growth rate. Moreover, we assessed various methods (walking, spotlight, and pointing dog) for counting sage-grouse broods. Spotlight and pointing dog methods were more effective than walking flush counts, and the latter may underestimate chick survival.

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