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Document Type

Thesis - University Access Only

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Wildlife and Fisheries Science

First Advisor

Kent C. Jensen


Ruffed grouse (Bonasa umbellus) are popular upland game birds as well as the management indicator species (MIS) for aspen (Populus tremuloides) in the Black Hills National Forest (BHNF). Due to this status the U.S. Forest Service and the South Dakota Department of Game Fish and Parks had interest in assessing the status and habitat requirements of ruffed grouse in the BHNF. The objective or our study was to assess resource selection of ruffed grouse at multiple spatial scales in order to identify the most appropriate scale to manage for ruffed grouse as the MIS for aspen in the BHNF. During the springs of 2007 and 2008 we conducted drumming surveys throughout the northern BHNF and located 32 used ruffed grouse drumming logs. The used sites were paired with an equal number of random unused sites to compare resource characteristics at increasing spatial scales that are correlated with the distribution of ruffed grouse. The presence of aspen was important across all spatial scales but was the most influential at 1600 m, and when the overstory canopy cover exceed 70%. Probability of site use maximized when 20% of the 1600m scale had this coverage. Ruffed grouse selected for areas with many small patches of aspen over those with few large patches. Probability of use was also greatest when aspen patches had a mean shape index of 1, or were circular shaped. At the smallest scale evaluated of 200 m, ruffed grouse selected drumming logs in close proximity to high stem densities of aspen. Ruffed grouse also selected activity centers that had a minimal presence of roads. Ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) had a negative influence on site selection at the 4800 m and 1600 m scales. At the 400 m scale, ruffed grouse selected against ponderosa pine stands when the overstory canopy cover was less then 40%. Management for ruffed grouse in the BHNF as the MIS for aspen, should focus on increasing the extent of aspen with a goal of at least 20% occurrence on the landscape. Management efforts should also incorporate multiple age and size classes of aspen with an emphasis on enhancing early successional habitat to provide valuable cover through increased stem densities. Cutting techniques should also create circular patches of aspen rather then linear draws to increase and maintain understory diversity.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Ruffed grouse -- Habitat suitability index models -- Black Hills National Forest (S.D. and Wyo.)


Includes bibliographical references (page 48-55)



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University


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