Ruffed grouse brood habitat selection at multiple scales in Pennsylvania: implications for survival

Tirpak, John M.; Giuliano, William M.; Miller, C. Allan
April 2008
Canadian Journal of Zoology;Apr2008, Vol. 86 Issue 4, p329
Academic Journal
Declines in ruffed grouse (Bonasa umbellus (L., 1766)) populations in the central and southern Appalachians may be linked to low brood survival. Therefore, managing for high-quality brood habitat could improve grouse numbers. Understanding how brood habitat selection affects survival and the spatial scale at which this occurs is therefore fundamental to developing effective habitat management strategies. From 1999-2002, we monitored 38 broods for 5 weeks post hatch and estimated utilization distributions (n = 28), site-scale habitat use (n = 21), and daily survival rate (mean = 0.966, range = 0.920-0.997, and n = 19). Relative to available habitat, broods selected sites with greater herbaceous ground cover and higher small (<2.5 cm diameter at breast height, DBH) stem densities and landscapes containing higher proportions of road and young deciduous forest. Herbaceous ground cover provided arthropod prey and concealment from predators and was a primary factor driving habitat selection. High stem densities and early successional habitats provided increased security, but were only used if adequate ground cover was present. Broods strongly selected roads and experienced higher survival near edges. However, higher road densities were associated with lower survival at the landscape scale. This pattern reflects the differential scale at which grouse and their predators respond to edge.


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