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Sharp-tailed grouse response to lek disturbance in the Carberry Sand Hills of Manitoba




Baydack, Richard Kenith, author
Hein, Dale, advisor
Braun, Clait E., committee member
Baker, Myron Charles, 1939-, committee member
Bailey, James A., 1934-, committee member
Ryder, Ronald A., committee member

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Characteristics of sharp-tailed grouse (Tympanuchus phasianellus) leks, response of grouse to experimental disturbances of leks, and use of replacement leks were studied in the Carberry Sand Hills, southwestern Manitoba, from May 1983 through June 1985. Ten active leks were located an average of 2.2 km apart and were generally oval-shaped, with a NW to SE orientation. Leks averaged 450 m2. Leks were higher than most surrounding terrain, and sloped ≤l% over display areas. Vegetation height was less on display than on perimeter areas. Cover consisted of grass (68%), forbs (15%), bare ground (15%), and shrubs (1%). Visibility on display areas increased progressively from summer to fall to spring. Each lek had escape cover ≤500 m and trees used for perching ≤400 m from lek center. Response of sharp-tailed grouse to lek disturbance varied between sexes. Male sharptails were tolerant of all experimental lek disturbances except visible human presence. They continued to display in spite of parked vehicles, snow fencing, propane 'bangers', scarecrows, radio sounds, and leashed dogs. Males displaced due to human presence generally remained in prairie habitat within 400 m of the traditional lek. They often returned to the lek within 5 minutes of cessation of disturbance. Displaced male grouse spent most of their time (70%) 'sitting motionless' during disturbance. Female sharptails were displaced from leks by all tested disturbances but were not monitored. Replacement leks attracted some displaced male sharp-tailed grouse. Successful replacement leks resembled traditional leks at test distances of 200 or 400 m. Male decoys, female decoys in precopulatory position, and tape-recorded grouse vocalizations were necessary to induce males to attend replacement leks. Some replacement leks were used daily by males during disturbance, but use was limited to <40% of total disturbance time. Males attended replacement leks more often during morning than evening display periods. Activity of males on replacement leks was dominated by 'sitting motionless', although some displaying occurred. Female sharptails were rarely observed at replacement leks, but when present their attendance incited male display activity.


1986 Spring.
Includes bibliographical references.

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Sharp-tailed grouse -- Manitoba
Lek behavior


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