Habitat, Mobility, and Social Patterns of Sharp-Tailed Grouse in Wisconsin
Gratson, Michael W.
University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, College of Natural Resources
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Habitat selection, mobility, and social patterns of sharp-tailed grouse (Pedioecetes phasianellus campestris) were investigated in northwestern Wisconsin from 1977 through 1979 by radio-tracking 26 males and 13 females. Monthly home ranges of hens were largest (464 ± 145 ha) when they were visiting display grounds and potential nest sites during the pre-incubation period. Hens nested and reared young broods away from cocks and display grounds by using habitat between grounds. Spatial separation apparently did not occur because of habitat requirements of the sexes. Cocks and hens used grass-forb, grass-shrub, and shrub-grass cover types during the summer. Monthly home ranges were less than 65 ha. Spatial separation of cocks and hens was not maintained throughout the summer. Although hens remained in areas between display grounds, some cocks moved away from home leks to areas used by brooding hens. Dispersal by juveniles occurred in mid-to-late October after adult hens deserted their broods. The mean October home range size of hens was 421 ± 114 ha. Juvenile hens stopped dispersing when they joined flocks of 20-25 birds; juvenile cocks stopped dispersing when they established territories at display grounds or stayed in areas near l eks. The variability in November home range size of cocks (286 ± 78 ha) may have reflected differing movement patterns to find or relocate winter habitat. Both cocks and hens were farthest (1,482 ± 242 m and 1,806 ± 207 m,· respectively) from the nearest display ground in February. Monthly mean home ranges of hens in winter (149 ± 31 ha} were similar in size to those of adult males (212 ± 36 ha), but similar than those of juvenile males (259 ± 33 ha). Cocks that used only natural foods in winter ranged over larger areas than those that also used corn (288 ± 35 ha and 139 ± 41 ha, respectively). Although the ranges of hens were smaller than those of cocks, hens moved farther (760 ± 117 m vs 446 ± 50 m) from their daylight feeding and loafing areas to night-roosting cover than did cocks during the winter. Cocks and hens used conifer and deciduous woods, sedge-meadows, and shrub-marshes in addition to open upland cover types at this time of year. A habitat-social dispersion model was developed. It and recommended management procedures provide a guide for managing sharp-tailed grouse in Wisconsin.