Age-specific variation in apparent survival rates of male lesser-prairie-chickens Public Deposited

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  • We used mark-recapture methods to estimate age-specific apparent survival rates for male Lesser Prairie-Chickens (Tympanuchus pallidicinctus), a gamebird of conservation concern. A total of 311 male prairie-chickens (135 yearlings, 176 adults) were captured and banded during a 5-year study in southwest Kansas. Time-since-marking models were used to estimate apparent survival after first capture (ϕ¹), apparent survival among returning birds (ϕ²⁺), and probability of capture (p) for yearling and adult prairie-chickens. Apparent survival is the product of true survival and site fidelity, and our model-averaged estimates of this parameter were ranked: yearlings after first capture (ϕ̂¹[subscript]yr = 0.60 ± 0.12) > adults after first capture (ϕ̂¹[subscript]ad = 0.44 ± 0.10) > returning birds (ϕ̂²⁺ = 0.36 ± 0.10). In contrast, movement data showed that site fidelity to communal display sites (or leks) increased with male age; yearlings returned to leks at lower rates (80%, n = 60) than adults (92%, n = 65). Thus, true survival rates of male Lesser Prairie-Chickens likely decline with increasing age, an unusual pattern found in few species of birds. We hypothesized that declines in survival as males' age may be a feature of promiscuous mating systems where competition for mating opportunities are intense. A review of annual survival rates for holarctic grouse did not support this idea; age-specific declines in male survival were not restricted to lek-mating species, and appear to be a general feature of most grouse populations.
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  • Hagen, C. A., Pitman, J. C., Sandercock, B. K., Robel, R. J., & Applegate, R. D. (2005). Age-specific variation in apparent survival rates of male lesser prairie-chickens. The Condor, 107(1), 78-86. doi:10.1650/7502
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