Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Natural Resource Management

First Advisor

Kent C. Jensen


Management practices designed for upland game species often focus on nest survival and hen winter survival due to the importance of these life history stages on population vital rates. However, chick survival is an important component of gallinaceous bird population dynamics, but it is poorly understood and often tends to be overlooked. Ideal brood habitat not only provides open understory for easy movement and canopy cover for protection, but also provides an abundance of arthropod foods for chicks. It has been hypothesized that restricted movement of chicks through thick vegetation in unmanaged grasslands results in lower brood survival rates. Research on the effectiveness of grassland management techniques used to improve brood rearing habitat specific to the northern Great Plains is lacking. This project investigated the efficacy of various methods of CRP mid-contract management, including haying, burning, herbicide application, interseeding, and grazing to improve brood rearing habitat for upland game birds as well as the longevity of the benefits provided by those methods. This research focused on assessing arthropod abundance through pitfall trap and sweep net collections, chick mass change and movement rates through the use of human-imprinted ring-necked pheasant (Phasianus colchicus Linnaeus) chicks, and vegetation composition and structure through Robel pole, Daubenmire, and litter depth measurements. Analysis of data using Kruskal- Wallis and Akaike’s Information Criterion corrected for small sample size (AICc) indicated that treatments incorporating interseeding, herbicide application, or both provided the best results for managing brood habitat. These sites produced the greatest chick mass gain and fastest movement times, and were characterized by reduced litter cover and depth, and increased bare ground and forb cover, which are all beneficial for chick movement and survival.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Ring-necked pheasant -- Habitat.
Grasslands -- Management.
Wildlife habitat improvement.


Includes bibliographical references



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University


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