Sharp-tailed Grouse Nesting Ecology
Recent booms in gas and oil production in western North Dakota have resulted in large economic growth in the state. However, this enormous scale of gas and oil production causes fragmentation to the natural landscape and periods of increased human activity which can have implications for wildlife communities as well as subsequent political, social, and economic impacts. We are evaluating the impacts of gas and oil development on a grassland indicator species, the sharp-tailed grouse (Tympanuchus phasianellus) by monitoring grouse nests with miniature cameras to determine nest success, identify changes in predators responsible for destroying nests, and quantify grouse nesting behaviors inside and outside of areas associated with gas and oil development in the 2012 and 2013 breeding seasons.
In addition, we are examining the impacts of gas and oil on the middle-sized mammalian predators (e.g., raccoons, skunks, badgers, coyotes, and fox) that often destroy grouse nests. During the 2012 and 2013 grouse nesting season, we placed trail cameras along habitat edges across study areas inside and outside of intense gas and oil development. We are evaluating occurrence patterns of these mammalian predators relative to site, oil well density, proximity to roads, and habitat composition using occupancy models, and will compare predator occurrence patterns to grouse depredations.
- Paul Burr - M.S. Student, UND Biology Department
- Aaron Robinson - ND Game and Fish Prairie Grouse Coordinator
- Randy Larsen - Brigham Young University