North American Crane Working Group


Date of this Version


Document Type



Johnson, Douglas H., and William L. Kendall. Modeling the population dynamics of Gulf Coast sandhill cranes. In: Urbanek RP, Stahlecker DW, eds. 1997. Proceedings of the Seventh North American Crane Workshop, 1996 Jan 10-13, Biloxi, Mississippi. Grand Island, NE: North American Crane Working Group. pp. 173-79.


Used by permission of the North American Crane Working Group


The Mid-continent Population of sandhill cranes (Grus canadensis) has a large geographic range. contains nearly 500,000 birds, and is hunted in much of its range. The population includes 3 subspecies; the numbers of 2 of these are uncertain, and they should be afforded protection from hunting that would be detrimental to their population. The 2 subspecies of concern tend to concentrate in the eastern part of the Great Plains during fall and spring and to winter along the Gulf Coast in Texas. This paper uses the limited information availahle ahout the Gulf Coast subpopulation in a model. We included in the model 5 input parameters: population size, annual survival rate in absence of hunting. the number of birds taken by hunters, the extent of additivity of hunting mortality, and recruitment rate, measured as the fraction of juveniles in the winter population. Using 3 widely ranging estimates of each parameter, we examined the general behavior of the simulated population. Realistic population projections occurred with medium (60,000) or large (166,000) population sizes, low (2.000) or moderate (4,000) harvests, and recruitment rates of 0.07 and 0.11. All values of survival in the absence of hunting and additivity of hunting yielded some realistic projections. Results of modeling suggest that the variables warranting closer monitoring are population size and recruitment rate.