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Differential seasonal avoidance of anthropogenic features and woody vegetation by Lesser Prairie-chickens

Citation

Lawrence, Andrew et al. (2022), Differential seasonal avoidance of anthropogenic features and woody vegetation by Lesser Prairie-chickens, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.hdr7sqvkv

Abstract

The influence of seasonal variation in animal behavior and the corresponding response in habitat selection is a critical component of habitat selection analyses. To examine this relationship, we conducted multi-scale analyses of Lesser Prairie-chicken (Tympanuchus pallidicinctus) habitat selection in relation to anthropogenic infrastructure associated with oil and gas development, mesquite, and trees during the spring and summer at home range and lek area scales. We tracked 159 Lesser Prairie-chickens using VHF radiotelemetry or PTT-GPS transmitters in the sand shinnery oak prairie region of eastern New Mexico, USA. We used discrete choice models and logistic regression to assess seasonal patterns of habitat selection at home range and lek area scales, respectively. The static habitat features we examined allowed us to observe differential patterns of habitat selection between the two seasons, revealing an overall increase in the degree of avoidance following the spring season. Results of our home range scale analysis indicate that utility pole density, mesquite cover and proximity, distance to active well pads, and proximity to private roads have significant negative effects on habitat selection during both seasons. Avoidance of dense utility pole areas was significantly greater during the summer. Lek area habitat selection results were similar, but differences in sensitivity to features between seasons were stronger. Avoidance of high mesquite cover and utility pole and tree densities, in particular, was significantly greater in the summer. The effects of density and cover of these features, which have previously been understudied or overlooked in Lesser Prairie-chicken research, provide critical information for future conservation practices. Furthermore, our study highlights the importance of accounting for potential seasonal patterns of their study species to best examine habitat selection.

Methods

These datasets were developed by quantifying anthropogenic infrastructure and woody vegetation in relation to locations of Lesser Prairie-chickens (Tympanuchus pallidicinctus) during the spring (March 1 – May 31) and summer (June 1 – August 31) in Chaves, Lea, and Roosevelt Counties, New Mexico, USA, 2013–2015. "Hectare" and "_dist" in the covariate names refer to the density of a given feature per hectare and the nearest distance to a given feature, respectively. The "wt" column refers to the adjusted covariate weight used for the analyses. The following are abbreviations for covariate labels: poles or util = utility poles; retpad = retired well pad; actpad = active well pad; bldng = building; mesq = mesquite; prvrd = private road; scndrd = secondary road; primrd = primary road. 

Usage Notes

Data are scaled and missing values for feature distances have been replaced with 1.5x the maximum observable distance. Please contact the corresponding author for additional inquiries regarding data collection and analyses. 

Funding

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service