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Ecology of male dispersion in lek -breeding grouse

Andrea Susanna Aspbury, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


This thesis examines ecological factors that impact male distribution in lek breeding animals. Determining the factors that generate male distributions in lekking species is difficult, because factors that are important at one spatial or temporal scale may differ from those factors operating at other scales. In order to address this issue, I analyzed questions about male distributions in three lek breeding grouse species at multiple scales. Because of the importance of changes in population density on lek size and male distributions across leks, I first considered long-term regional (several populations) trends of two sympatric lekking grouse species. The results of these analyses demonstrate that while one species has shown long-term increases in density, the other has shown long-term decreases. These trends are likely the result of regional environmental changes acting differentially on the two species. I next analyzed the ecological underpinnings of mixed-species lek formation between the same two species, by considering habitat preferences in one population. The results suggest that the two species have different habitat requirements, and the distribution of these habitats can affect local clustering of males. Finally, I considered how males of another grouse species use topographic features to select lek sites. I found that male distributions are determined by selection of sites that have low long-range visibility. This result suggests that males select sites that either decrease their risk of predation or increase the detectability of acoustic signals. The results of the research in this thesis illustrate that several processes, acting at different spatial and temporal scales, can affect the distribution of males in lek breeding species. ^

Subject Area

Biology, Ecology|Biology, Zoology

Recommended Citation

Aspbury, Andrea Susanna, "Ecology of male dispersion in lek -breeding grouse" (2002). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3045506.