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Document Type

Thesis - University Access Only

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Wildlife and Fisheries Science

First Advisor

Lester D. Flake


food plots, winter home range, pheasant hens, south dakota


The establishment of food plots next to winter cover is a common management practice used in South Dakota to provide a readily available source of food and cover for ring-necked pheasants (hasianus colchicus) through the winter months. Pheasant use of food plots during winter and factors influencing the degree of food plot use is well documented. However, the effect of food plots on winter home range and survival of pheasants is limited. I hypothesized that food plots established next to winter cover would reduce winter home range and improve winter survival of pheasants by reducing travel distances from roosting to feeding sites. Ninety hen pheasants were captured, radiomarked, and released at 4 study sites (2 reference, 2 treatment) in western Moody County, South Dakota. Radio-marked hens were monitored from November 15 through March 31, in winter 1 and October 15 through March 31, in winter 2. Ninety-five percent home range isopleths were used to verify radio-marked hens as food plot (FP) or non food plot (NFP) birds. Food plot birds were further classified as frequent users (class 1) or occasional users (class 2). The distance from a food plot to the home range center was calculated for each bird and the mean distance was tested for differences among the three classes of food plot use. Survival of radio-marked hens was estimated for the period of December 15 to March 15 and sources of winter mortality were noted in both winters. Effects of home range size on pheasant survival was also tested. The 95% home range area of FP birds was larger than the home range area of NFP birds both winters and was statistically larger (P = 0.02 1) in 1995-96. No difference in home range size was detected among the classes of food plot use (P = 0.062). The class 1 home range center to food plot distance was less than class 2 and NFP distances (PS 0.05) but no difference was detected between class 2 and NFP distances in either winter (P > 0.05). Survival of juvenile FP birds was greater than juvenile NFP birds but the difference was not statistically different (P = 0.136). The survival of juvenile class l birds was greater than the survival of both class 2 and NFP birds (PS 0.038), however no difference in survival was detected between class 2 and NFP birds (P = 0.9 12). Home range size did not affect survival rates (P 2'.: 0.562). Evidence from this study suggests hen pheasants expanded their home ranges to use food plots, but only those residing near (<300 m) a food plot had greater survival rates. Predation was the primary source of mortality.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

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


Includes bibliographical references (page 55-58)



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University


Copyright © 1997 Andy E. Gabbert. All rights reserved.