Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department / School

Natural Resource Management

First Advisor

Jonathan Jenks


Clothianidin, Neonicotinoids, Ring-necked Pheasants


Ring-necked pheasants (Phasianus colchicus) are economically important to the state of South Dakota bringing in over one hundred million dollars in revenue each season. The population is known to fluctuate temporally for many reasons, often weather related. Unfortunately, no research has been conducted involving ring-necked pheasants that evaluated the impact or interaction of neonicotinoids on the species. The objective of our study was to gain an understanding of how the neonicotinoid, Clothianidin, affects survival and breeding in pheasants. Our first experiment was to determine if there was a selection bias for seeds treated with neonicotinoids. In this experiment, eight ring-necked pheasants (4 hens and 4 roosters) where placed in an enclosure for 10 days. They were provided a choice of three options; untreated, dyed, and dyed/treated seed corn. Seeds were treated with Poncho® 1250 (containing Clothianidin) and dyed with Rhodamine B to match the color of treated seeds. Pheasants selected (P < 0.0001) untreated seeds over dyed and treated seeds. We then collected 185 wild ring-necked pheasant hens from their primary range in South Dakota during the 2017 spring agricultural planting season. We necropsied collected pheasants and collected liver, spleen, and crops. We examined crop contents; 151 (~81.6%) of 185 hens had consumed agricultural seeds and of those 24 (~12.9%) of 185 hens had seeds that had treatment dye. We found that ~15.68% of the hens had greater than 0.5 parts per billion (ppb) neonicotinoid concentrations in livers. Pheasants that had consumed neonicotinoid treated seeds averaged ~3.49 ng/mL Clothianidin versus ~1.90 ng/mL for birds that did not have confirmed treated seeds, which was significantly different (P < 0.04). To test survival of pheasants exposed to Clothianidin in the 2016 field season, groups of 15 captive hen pheasants received seeds of Armor® (Jonesboro, Arkansas, USA) Seed Corn 1046 or Armor® (Jonesboro, Arkansas, USA) Seed Corn 1046 that had been treated with Poncho 1250 (1.25 mg/seed). The five treatment levels consisted of 75 treated seeds, 15 treated seeds, 2 treated seeds, 1 treated seed, and 0 treated seeds (control), which were used in all trials (2016-2017). For the four groups that did not receive 75 treated seeds, untreated seeds were used to fill out the 75 total seeds provided to pheasants. Hens were then monitored for sixty days. After death or euthanasia, hen pheasants were necropsied for lesions or tumors. In 2017, our breeding study consisted of 14 days of treatments for captive pheasants, which were identical to the previous year’s treatments except roosters were included with hen pheasants. There were 5 replicates of 10 hens and 5 roosters. All pheasants received 75 seeds of Armor® (Jonesboro, Arkansas, USA) Seed Corn 1046. The same seed and variety also were treated with Poncho 1250 for the treated seeds. After the 14 days of treatments, hens were placed in breeding cages. Eggs were collected for the 8 days of breeding and 30 days following breeding and placed in an incubator. The 2016 survival results showed support for the null model (AICc 123.88). The survival results from 2017 indicated that the likelihood of survival for pheasants consuming the 75 treated seeds was 0.49 while the other treatments (combined) had a survival probability of 0.83. Survival of pheasant chicks differed; chicks from the 75 seed treatment had a survival rate of 0.50 (SEM = 0.13), whereas survival for 15, 2, 1, and control treatments were 0.73 (SEM = 0.14), 0.81 (SEM = 0.09), 0.62 (SEM = 0.08), and 0.71 (SEM = 0.07), respectively. Our study indicated that pheasants avoid treated seeds, survival probability was lower for pheasants consuming the 75 treated seeds treatment in 2017, and pheasant chick survival and nest initiation were lower and later for the higher treatment levels of Clothianidin.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Ring-necked pheasant -- Effect of pesticides on.
Pesticides and wildlife.



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University



Rights Statement

In Copyright