Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)




This paper discusses habitat availability and utilization and population changes of pinnat ?d grouse in the northern great plains. Three aspects of grouse ecology were examined in Grand Forks County, North Dakota, and Polk County, Minnesota, during March 197^ to March 1976: (1) habitat types of specific management units and the surrounding area, (2) past and present population levels and distribution within the study areas, and (3) spring home ranges, habitat utilization, and dispersal from the booming ground by males.

Two cover types, Cropland (75-8 percent) and Grass (20.9 percent), were abundant on the Grand Forks County study area. Cropland (36.5 percent) and Grass (^9-5 percent) were also abundant types on the Polk County study area.

Vegetation of the Prairie Chicken Management Area in Grand Forks County was primarily Grass (88.8 percent) and Cropland (10.1 percent). In the Grassland, there was relatively little diversity among dominant species and relatively few total numbers of sampled species in each type. Distribution of habitat types on the Prairie Chicken Management Area was not very complex; cover types tended to follow old field boundaries. Vegetation of the Pembina Trail Preserve in Polk County was primarily Grass (76.3 percent) and. Trees and Brush (21.9 percent). There were six groups of Grasses, each dominated by two or three unique species. Distribution of habitat types was very complex.

Thirteen booming grounds occurred on the Grand Porks County area between 1959-1975* Six grounds, with an average of 5*5 males per ground, have been active since 1970. Only two grounds, with a total of 15 males, were reported active in 1975- Seventeen booming grounds were known to occur in the Polk County area between 1963-1975* Eleven grounds, with an average of 9*9 males per ground, have been active since 1970. Eight grounds, with 73 males, were active in 1975* The grouse population in Polk County is at least stable and probably increasing, while that in Grand Forks County is declining and may become extirpated within a few years.

Cover types adjacent to the six recent booming grounds in the Grand Forks County study area indicated that major portions of the average potential home range were Cropland (59.0 percent) and Grass (39*9 percent), a ratio of about 1.5 to 1. Potential home ranges for 11 recent booming grounds in the Polk County study unit consisted of 93*8 percent each of Cropland and Grass, a ratio of 1 to 1.

Radio tracking of five males during the spring booming season indicated that Cropland received the most frequent use of any habitat type. Booming period locations were generally in Cropland, as were many Feeding-Rest1 ig sites, but many Feeding-Res ting sites were also in Trees and Brush. Roosting locations were either in or near dense grass. Home range sizes during the booming season averaged 31.7 hectares.

During the booming season, males were located either on or within 300-500 meters of the booming ground. As the courtship period ended, dispersal increased to 1300 meters. Distances traveled by birds during the day also increased, irom several hundred meters to 1000-2000 meters. One male left the management area and later was located twice, 6.6 and 3.3 kilometers away from the original booming ground.