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Implications of perceived predation risk on female reproductive investment

Jess Laskowski measures egg size as an indicator of reproductive investment


September 2011 - September 2019


Perceived predation risk, in the absence of depredation, can elicit anti-predator behaviors in prey with potential implications to prey fitness. However, the causal nature of this cascade and the long-term fitness implications for individuals and populations remain unclear in part because it is difficult to separate depredation from the perception of risk. We will address how perceived predation risk, independent of predation rates, affects hen pheasant reproductive strategy in Southwestern Nebraska. Pheasant hunters are limited to harvesting male pheasants, but because female and male pheasants coexist, hens likely perceive the presence of hunters and dogs as a threat. Furthermore, pheasant hunting season in Nebraska is limited to the fall and winter, providing a temporal gap between the perceived risk and the spring breeding season thereby enabling an examination of the long-term implications on individual fitness. In a 3 year study, we will track 60 hen pheasants using radio telemetry in 8 study sites, which receive a gradient of hunting pressure. We will assess hen reproductive investment (clutch size and mass, and incubation rhythms), potential physiological and morphological mechanisms driving hen reproductive investment (body condition, stress levels and immune function) as well as hen habitat use in order to evaluate how perceived predation risk affects hen pheasant reproductive strategy.

Research Products and Activities

Peer Reviewed Publications

  • Laskowski, J., G.C. Bachman, and J.J. Fontaine. 2018. Severe drought impacts female pheasant physiology in southwest Nebraska. Prairie Naturalist 49:57-65.


  • Laskowski, J. and J.J. Fontaine. 2013. Hen Pheasant Reproduction in Response to Current Management Actions. Pheasants Forever State Habitat Meeting. Kearney, NE.

Current Staff

Federal Staff: 101

Masters Students: 238

Phd Students: 159

Post Docs: 57

University Staff: 260

5 Year Summary

Students graduated: 688

Scientific Publications: 1918

Presentations: 4316



Funding Agencies

  • Nebraska Game and Parks Commission


Cooperative Research Units Program Headquarters Cooperators

  1. U.S. Geological Survey