Off-campus South Dakota State University users: To download campus access theses, please use the following link to log into our proxy server with your South Dakota State University ID and password.

Non-South Dakota State University users: Please talk to your librarian about requesting this thesis through interlibrary loan.

Document Type

Thesis - University Access Only

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department / School

Wildlife and Fisheries Science

First Advisor

Lester D. Flake


A cooperative program between sportsmen's groups, private landowners, and the Department of Game, Fish and Parks has resulted in placement of numerous winter food plots, primarily of corn, on private lands in eastern South Dakota with the intent to help wintering ring-necked pheasants (Phasianus colchicus) survive. The objective of this study was to evaluate levels of pheasant use of food plots in relation to characteristics of food plots and their peripheral habitats. Thirty food plots were studied during the winter of 1988-89 and 45 during the winter of 1989-90; 59 of these were unique to a year and 16 were measured during both years. Pheasant numbers in food plots were monitored throughout each winter both by counting tracks (per 50 m) following fresh snow and counting pheasants flushed within and immediately adjacent to food plots during each month. When snow was lacking, data collection was limited to flush counts only. Twelve habitat variables potentially related to pheasant use of food plots were measured from aerial photographs within a 300 and a 600 meter radius of each food plot center (28.3 ha area and 113.1 ha area, respectively). Variation in average tracks/50 m and flush counts among 75 food plots (years combined) was related to the selected habitat variables using multiple regression (MAXR) analysis. Variation in average flush counts (R2 = 0.73) was more associated with habitat variables than was variation in average track counts (R2 = 0.45). Variables measured within a 300 m radius were better predictors of pheasant use than variables measured within a 600 m radius. Percent of the peripheral area in dense wetland emergents and willow (Salix spp.) patches was the best predictor of pheasant use of food plots. Percentage cover of tall grassland (> 76 cm) and distance from windward to leeward side of the food plot also were correlated with use of food plots. Shelterbelts, even with heavy understory, did not enhance use of food plots by pheasants. Extreme snowfall and drifting may alter this relationship.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Ring-necked pheasant--South Dakota--Habitat
Ring-necked pheasant--South Dakota--Wintering
Ring-necked pheasant--South Dakota--Feeding and feeds


Includes bibliographical references (pages 30-33)



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University


Copyright © 1996. Peter L. Crookston. All rights reserved.