Brood Habitat and Invertebrate Biomass of the Greater Prairie Chicken (Tympanuchus cupido pinnatus) in Northwestern Minnesota
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This study assessed the influence of terrestrial invertebrate abundance and vegetation characteristics on northwest Minnesota greater prairie chicken brood success. Radio telemetry was used to determine movements of greater prairie chicken hens and their broods. Invertebrate abundance indices were collected using a sweep net and vegetation data were recorded with overhead and dot-board photographs. Invertebrates were dried, sorted by size and order, and weighed and counted. Vegetation was classified according to life form and height was measured. Greater prairie chicken broods appear to use those habitats most readily available with increased invertebrate resources. Invertebrate biomass was not related to the occurrence of uncultivated forbs which averaged < 17% in Minnesota habitats where greater prairie chicken broods were located. Relatively undisturbed grasslands produce sufficient invertebrate resources to fledge greater prairie chicken chicks. However, location data and invertebrate-habitat indices suggest increased brood success would be likely with improved habitat placement/availability and irregular disturbance regimes that produce beneficial mixed grass/forb vegetation attractive to both greater prairie chicken broods and their invertebrate prey.