Cooperative Research Units
Education, Research And Technical Assistance For Managing Our Natural Resources
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Understanding the Ecology, Habitat Use, Phenology and Thermal


August 2010 - December 2012


The region of the Great Plains Landscape Conservation Cooperative (GPLCC) is anticipated to experience increased maximum and minimum temperatures, reduced yet greater intensity precipitation events, and spring and the associated environmental phenology occurring earlier due to climate change. These changes and subsequent landscape management techniques may influence the Lesser Prairie-chicken (Tympanuchus pallidicinctus), a level 2 candidate for protection under the Endangered Species Act and a priority species under the GPLCC, in positive or negative ways. We propose combining and synthesizing existing data from published literature and unpublished reports, newer unpublished data collected in our ongoing studies, and climate change models to assess the potential influences changes in seasonal phenology, temperature and precipitation may have on future reproductive ecology and survival of Lesser Prairie-chickens. A major emphasis will be the synthesis, analyses, and completion of a 10-year investigation into female Lesser Prairie-chicken response to grazing and herbicide treatments including resource selection, survival, and vegetation response. Additionally, we will examine correlations between climate and reproductive phenology of prairie-chickens, and determine the thermal and humidity profiles at nests to examine tolerance thresholds of hens and eggs. By combining these data we will develop a clearer picture of how environmental conditions influence Lesser Prairie-chickens, and how anticipated climate changes based on testing of competing models that may result in positive or negative influences on Lesser Prairie-chicken populations at the southern reaches where densities of their remaining distribution are the greatest. We envision this as a pilot study limited to the sand-shinnery vegetation communities in west Texas and east New Mexico. We anticipate that our results will set the foundation for a distribution-wide analysis in subsequent funding cycles. This proposal will provide data directly relevant to GPLCC Performance Measures 2, 6, 7, and 13 and contribute to the fulfillment of measures 5, 8, and 14.

Research Products and Activities


  • Grisham, Blake N. 2012. The ecology of lesser prairie-chickens in shinnery oak-grassland communities in New Mexico and Texas with implications toward habitat management and future climate change. Ph.D. Dissertation, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX.

Current Staff

Federal Staff: 2

Masters Students: 6

Phd Students: 3

Post Docs: 1

University Staff: 3

5 Year Summary

Students graduated: 41

Scientific Publications: 64

Presentations: 159



  • Clint BoalPrincipal Investigator
  • Blake GrishamStudent
  • Blake GrishamStaff
  • Philip BorsdorfStudent
  • Jennifer ZavaletaStudent

Funding Agencies

  • Great Plains LCC
  • The Nature Conservancy


Texas Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit Cooperators

  1. Texas Parks and Wildlife
  2. Texas Tech University
  3. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  4. U.S. Geological Survey
  5. Wildlife Management Institute