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Mandy R. Orth

Document Type

Thesis - University Access Only

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Natural Resource Management

First Advisor

Kent C. Jensen

Second Advisor

David Willis


Grasslands play a critical role in providing habitat for greater prairie-chickens (Tympanuchus cupido) and sharp-tailed grouse (Tympanuchus phasianellus). Due to increased conversion of grassland to cropland, South Dakota is losing this critical habitat. This study identifies areas of eastern SD where populations of prairie-chickens and sharp-tailed grouse were suspected to reside, characterizes landscape attributes within 3,000 m of leks, and analyzes landscape characteristics using GIS modeling to develop a predictive model. Survey routes were developed in areas of potential suitable habitat and were sampled beginning ½ hour before sunrise and ending 2 to 2½ hours after sunrise during the breeding period of mid-March to early June of each year, with listening points established at 1.6 km (1 mile) intervals. Leks were located and recorded. All land and land-uses within 3,000 m of identified leks and randomly selected non-use points were digitized and labeled into a GIS. Land-use around these points was analyzed at 7 scales (400, 800, 1200, 1600, 2000, 2400, and 3000-m). 70 grouse leks were found in eastern South Dakota outside of the traditional grouse range. Significantly more grass (grassland and undisturbed grass) was found around grouse leks than non-use points. Conversely, there was less cropland surrounding lek locations than non-use points. The combination of the proportion of total grass (grassland, undisturbed grass, and hay) and patches on the landscape was a strong predictor of lek presence at all spatial scales. An avoidance of trees and wetlands was evident at the 800-m scale. Multi-scale modeling revealed the number of patches at 3000-m and the total amount of grass on the landscape at 2000-m to be the strongest predictors of lek presence. Within the multi-scale models, grasslands were most important at 2000-m, undisturbed grass was most important at 1600-m, and the important scale for hayed land was variable, ranging from 400-m to 2400-m, with 1200-m being most common.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Greater prairie chicken -- South Dakota -- Geographical distribution
Sharp-tailed grouse -- South Dakota -- Geographical distribution
Landscape changes -- South Dakota


Includes bibliographical references (page 47-61)



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University


Copyright © 2012 Mandy R. Orth. All rights reserved.