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Old 02-16-2010, 02:56 PM   #1
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Default Prairie Chickens,it would be a shame to lose them.

Prairie Chickens in the Fort Pierre Grasslands
Spring mating behavior

YouTube - Prairie Chickens in the Fort Pierre Grasslands




PRAIRIE RIDGE STATE NATURAL AREA

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In 1995, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service identified 17 birds dependent on grasslands or wetlands associated with grasslands in a region that includes Illinois and seven other Midwestern states as species of special management concern. This status is due to: 1) documented or apparent population declines; 2) small or restricted populations, and/or 3) dependence on restricted or venerable habitats. Fifteen of those 17 species occur at Prairie Ridge and 12 are known to breed at this site, giving regional importance to this grassland habitat complex.
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Prairie-chickens occurred on the 21 million acres of native prairie that existed in Illinois; about 60 percent of the state's total area. Peak prairie- chicken numbers of 10 - 14 million birds probably occurred from about 1850 - 1860 at the time when there was a patchwork of prairies interspersed with grain fields, creating optimum habitat for prairie-chickens.
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In response to the drastic decline of the prairie-chickens due to the loss of grasslands, the Prairie-Chicken Foundation of Illinois was organized in 1959 with the single purpose of preserving the prairie-chicken in Illinois. In 1961 the first sanctuary of 77 acres was acquired in Jasper County. Between 1961 and 2003 in Jasper County, 12 tracts totaling 2346 acres were developed as grasslands in Jasper County, mostly by private groups and individuals working in cooperation with the Prairie-Chicken Foundation of Illinois, The Illinois Audubon Society, The Nature Conservancy, the Illinois Natural History Survey, the IDNR and AmerenCIPS. In Marion County, seven tracts totaling 1207.5 acres were purchased between 1967 and 2001 for prairie-chicken management. These grasslands currently support the last remaining Illinois prairie-chicken populations.
http://legacy.lclark.edu/~seavey/Bio151S07/prairie%20chicken.pdf

There is a long-term study and restoration program going on in Jasper and Marion counties in Illinois. The purpose is to introduce new prairie chickens from other states to add new genes to Illinois stock. This will improve their survival rate and the hatching percentage of eggs.

http://elibrary.unm.edu/sora/Wilson/v110n02/p0190-p0197.pdf

Confronting concerns that studies of the prairie chicken could harm nest survival.
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Old 02-17-2010, 10:47 AM   #2
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Interesting stuff in the links above if you have the time to read.
In 1933 the prairie chicken population in Illinois was at about 25,000.
In 1962 the population was reduced through hunting and loss of habitat to under 2,000.
By 1972 only about 500 were left and by 1990 only 76
In 1993 just about 50 birds remained in the Illinois population.

At the same time larger populations had survived in other grassland states. These populations were all over 4000 birds and were managing to intermingle and keep the genetic diversity high and reproductive success at 83 to 100 percent success.

The Illinois prairie chickens were found to be lossing genetic diversity rapidly, the thinking being that inbreeding was causing failure of reproductive success. These birds were much too isolated from the larger population to ever interbreed. Testing had shown that all the populations had shared traits and were likely once all connected. Mankind had created a bottleneck in Illinois,separating its population effectively as these birds do not travel far.
So the researchers brought in a few birds from three other populations in other states. Reproductive success rapidly increased.

Translocation as a management strategy appeared to work.
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Old 02-17-2010, 11:23 AM   #3
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Effects of Management Practices on Grassland Birds:
Greater Prairie-Chicken

NPWRC :: Effects of Management Practices on Grassland Birds: Greater Prairie-Chicken



http://audubonmagazine.org/birds/birds0803.html
By David Standish

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The result was a loss of genetic variation, which may have important consequences for the long-term viability of a population, possibly decreasing resistance to disease and parasites, and the ability of populations to respond to environmental changes. Another result of this genetic loss was lowered egg viability. From a hatching success of 91 to 100 percent in the 1960s, the rate in 1990 fell to 38 percent, and despite best efforts, the number of birds bottomed out in 1994, at 46. The solution was to bring in new recruits. Between 1992 and 1998 a total of 271 greater prairie chickens from populations in Minnesota, Kansas, and Nebraska were relocated to Jasper County, while an additional 235 were released in Marion County, for a grand total of 506. Hatching success rebounded to as much as 94 percent. But the population continued to struggle as a series of cold, wet springs made the survival of newly hatched broods an even more treacherous business than usual. Fortunately, in the past few years the weather has been kinder. In 2007 the closely monitored population count was 51 males in Jasper County (up from 37 in 2006) and 59 males in Marion County (up from 48 in 2006).
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Old 02-17-2010, 11:33 AM   #4
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Unfortunately, reduced genetic diversity is going to be an issue with many natives- especially those on the cusp like the prairie chicken. I hope that the translocation will be a useful tool!
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Old 02-17-2010, 02:51 PM   #5
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Gnomenative , sadly translocation may only be a temporary help needing to be repeated often if habitats of sufficient quality are not available for flock size to increase.

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“A little repentance just before a species goes over the brink is enough to make us feel virtuous. When a species is gone we have a good cry and repeat the performance.” Aldo Leopold
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Old 02-18-2010, 04:03 PM   #6
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Heath Hen - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Heath Hens lived in the scrubby heathland barrens of coastal New England, from southernmost New Hampshire to northern Virginia in historical times, but possibly south to Florida prehistorically.
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Heath Hens were one of the first bird species that Americans tried to save from extinction. As early as 1791, a bill "for the preservation of heath-hen and other game" was introduced in the New York legislature[2]. Although the effort to save the Heath Hen from extinction was ultimately unsuccessful, it paved the way for conservation of other species. Ironically, the establishment of the reserve on the open shrubland of what was then called the Great Plain may have accelerated the Heath Hen's extinction.
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Old 02-22-2010, 11:18 AM   #7
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Yes heath hens were an abundant species along the east coast when settlers first arrived. Amazing how quickly hunting reduced numbers. A protected area generated some time but the population was too small to live through various disease,weather and predation problems. The effort was too little too late.
It is interesting that there were people already trying to save populations that far back in our history. Sadly there still are not enough people that consider saving these populations worthwhile.
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Old 12-31-2010, 01:18 PM   #8
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No video, but a nice audio discussion of staus of the Attwater Prairie Chicken in Texas.

The second link is to a text of the interview.


Endangered Species Program | About Us | Featured Species
Attwater's Prairie Chicken (08:56)
Host: Sarah Leon with Mike Morrow

Attwater's prairie chicken
Status: Endangered/ Listed on March 11, 1967
Scientific Name: Tympanuchus cupido attwateri

http://www.fws.gov/endangered/about/...transcript.pdf

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Chick survival has been identified as a major obstacle to Attwater's recovery at the current
time and we're concerned not only with regard to the role that fire ants may be playing on
direct predation of hatching eggs and chicks, but we're also concerned about the impact
that they may be having on the insect community upon which young Prairie Chicken chicks depend on for food.

I still love the video of mating ritual booming.
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Old 01-01-2011, 01:35 PM   #9
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The depth of diversity of genetics for an organism is a very big deal.

Once an animal goes under a certain number of organisms it becomes very hard for it to re-obtain previously held diversity. A single infection is far more likely to wipe the species out.

There is some book I read a while ago about this. It's called Tears of the Cheetah or something cheesy like that. It's reasonable pop sciencey genomics stuff.

There we go...

http://www.amazon.com/Tears-Cheetah-...3906923&sr=8-1
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Old 02-16-2011, 09:25 PM   #10
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Anyone know how much uninterrupted acreage is needed by these birds?

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