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Document Type

Thesis - University Access Only

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department / School

Wildlife and Fisheries Science

First Advisor

Kurt J. Jenkins


pronghorn, agricultural land, south dakota


Use of agricultural lands by pronghorn (Antilocapra americana) was studied using monthly aerial and roadside surveys in northwestern Harding County, South Dakota from January 1989 to August 1990. Standing crop phytomass and crude protein content (CPC) of forages were also sampled monthly from June 1989 to July 1990 on alfalfa, small grains, native grasslands, and native sagebrush-grasslands to better understand influences of nutrient availability on habitat selection of pronghorns. Cropland, Conservation Reserve Program lands (CRP), and native prairie made up 17%, 4%, and 79% of available habitats, respectively. Pronghorn were observed foraging on cropland, CRP, and native prairie a total of 14%, 5%, and 81% of the time, respectively. Seasonal variation in the use of cropland was observed throughout the study. Use of small grains was greater than availability only during May-June 1989 (P≤0.10). Alfalfa was used in proportion greater than availability during March-April and July-August in 1989, while CRP was selected in January-February 1990 (P≤0.10). Alfalfa and CRP showed an inverse relationship in use by pronghorn. Mean distances that pronghorn were observed fro111 crop land did not differ from mean distances of random locations from cropland during most seasonal periods (P≤ 0.05). Pronghorn were observed at greater distances (range 330-459 m) from roadways than were random distances (x = 231m) during all seasonal periods (P≤ 0.05). Pronghorn selected stockponds or dugouts over creeks and the Little Missouri River and were observed at distances greater than the mean di stance to water from May to August 1990 (P≤ 0.05). Hilltops and flat areas were selected over slopes during all seasonal periods. In all vegetation types, phytomass of forage was lowest during winter dormancy, and increased during spring green-up from April through July. Phytomass of alfalfa and wheat tended to be greater than native rangelands during all times of the year. CPC levels of all forages increased as spring green-up occurred, was highest in April, and gradually decreased into the summer months. In general, pronghorn selected forage types with the greatest CPC levels during all seasons. Sport harvest together with plantings of CRP to provide alternative high-quality foraging areas are direct methods of reducing depred21t ion on agricultural croplands.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Pronghorn -- South Dakota -- Harding County -- Habitat
Pronghorn -- South Dakota -- Harding County -- Nutrition
Habitat selection


Includes bibliographical references (page 44-48)



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University


Copyright © 1991 Steven L. Griffin. All rights reserved.