US Geological Survey


Date of this Version

Winter 1996


Published in Wildlife Society Bulletin, Vol. 24, No. 4 (Winter, 1996), pp. 593-601.


We examined the association between changes in the number of Attwater's prairie- chicken (Tympanuchus cupido attwateri) on the Attwater Prairie Chicken National Wildlife Refuge from 1972 to 1993 and changes in refuge management practices (burning and grazing). We also examined the relationship of prairie-chicken population increases and decreases on the refuge to rainfall and off-refuge prairie-chicken populations. Burning within the prairie-chicken's core habitat on the refuge and variability in grassland structure were directly correlated (P< 0.05) with increases and declines in prairie-chicken populations. Refuge population increases and declines were inversely correlated (P< 0.1) with average April rainfall/event, May absolute departure from long-term average rainfall, May number of rainfall events, annual absolute departure of rainfall from the long-term average, and the annual number of rainfall events. Refuge population increases and declines were directly correlated (P < 0.1) with off-refuge populations, although the off- refuge population decline began 4 years earlier than on-refuge.