Great Plains Natural Science Society


The Prairie Naturalist

Date of this Version


Document Type



The Prairie Naturalist 52:58-75; 2020


The ranges of two native galliform species overlap in the Nebraska Sandhills, the largest contiguous grassland in North America. We monitored nests of greater prairie-chickens (Tympanuchus cupido) and sharp-tailed grouse (Tympanuchus phasianellus) in Cherry County, Nebraska, in 2015 and 2016. Our objectives were to 1) compare daily probability of nest survival between species, 2) evaluate vegetation structure at nests for potential effects on nest survival, 3) compare nest site topography between species, and 4) use a simple model of breeding season success to evaluate the potential for stable populations at our study sites. We captured and radiomarked 87 birds, and we monitored nests for known fate analyses of survival. The two species did not vary in daily nest survival (pooled DNS = 0.9667, SE = 0.0085), and pooled probability of nest success (24-day) was high (0.4436). Sharp-tailed grouse used nest sites with taller vegetation and nested lower on slopes than greater prairie-chickens, but survival did not vary with vegetation structure. Our modeling suggested that grouse in the Sandhills region have high potential for stable populations with the level of productivity documented in our study.