Prairie Grouse

WEST employees have unmatched experience addressing the ecological issues surrounding prairie grouse throughout their ranges. Our extensive fieldwork with prairie grouse species includes the use of capture and recapture, distance sampling, aerial survey methods, telemetry data collection, resource selection analysis, and remote sensing. We have completed population assessments and risk analyses, developed mitigation and Habitat Conservation Plans, and conducted innovative research to evaluate and minimize impacts to populations from anthropogenic disturbances. 

WEST has published more than 20 peer-reviewed papers on prairie grouse in the scientific literature and has presented at numerous scientific and industry conferences across the US.

Because our employees are experts on state conservation plans, management plans, and the regulations that exist throughout the prairie grouse range, we are able to help clients navigate efficiently through these processes. Highlights of WEST’s current work on prairie grouse species include estimating the range-wide population of lesser prairie-chickens, development of the first-ever greater sage grouse habitat conservation bank, and leading research on estimating impacts to greater sage-grouse, lesser prairie-chickens, and sharp-tailed grouse from wind energy development.

Peer-Reviewed Prairie Grouse Publications

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Project Highlights

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Range-Wide Abundance of Lesser Prairie-Chickens

WEST has worked with the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies to estimate range-wide lesser prairie-chicken population sizes annually since 2012 by inventorying leks (mating sites) within four ecoregions of Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas. Lesser prairie-chickens were counted on leks by WEST biologists using helicopters during the spring breeding season. The objective of these surveys was to implement consistent, statistically robust surveys and analysis methods to estimate lesser prairie-chicken population size and lek abundance to inform population trends that can be used in management decisions.

Prairie Grouse and Wind Energy Development Research

Over the last decade, WEST has been on the forefront in research that investigates the effects of wind energy facilities on grouse behavior by implementing the first-ever research studies that evaluate population-level effects of wind energy facilities on greater sage-grouse, lesser prairie-chickens, and sharp-tailed grouse. These studies are multi-year studies that have occurred in Kansas, Wyoming, and South Dakota, where individuals are tracked via Global Positioning System transmitters to record movements and population fitness parameters. The overall goal of this research is to establish the population-level effects of wind energy development, grouse seasonal habitat selection, demography, and lek attendance. These studies represent the only situation in the US where the response of these grouse populations to the infrastructure associated with wind energy development has been investigated. The results of these studies will better inform management actions surrounding prairie grouse conservation.