Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: South Carolina
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

South Carolina Project

Modeling Winter Habitat Use of Whooping Cranes in the Eastern Migratory Population

May 2014 - December 2016


Participating Agencies

  • Nemours Foundation

We have identified a need to assess wintering ecology of cranes so as to better predict the types of habitats they may use and the quantity and quality of habitats that may be available throughout the EMP. This is pertinent not only to understanding winter ecology but also to elucidate the linkages that exist between winter habitat quality and subsequent reproductive success. If time and funding permit (or as subsequent research efforts) we also would seek to better understand food quality and availability at wintering sites, wintering movement patterns, and territoriality for breeding pairs or family groups during the nonbreeding season.

The goal of the research is to enhance our understanding of wintering habitat use of whooping cranes so as to better inform decision-making as it relates to wintering habitat assessment as well as the development and protection of current or alternative wintering sites. Our objectives are to (1) quantify wintering habitat use of adult whooping cranes at the patch and landscape scales from monitoring data collected for the EMP between 2001-2013, (2) using habitat models created in objective 1, predict suitability of potential wintering areas east of the Mississippi River, (3) solicit expert opinion to further inform the development of predictive habitat models for novel wintering sites east of the Mississippi River, and (4) use a structured decision making framework to evaluate possible wintering habitat locations as identified in objectives 2 and 3.

Theses and Dissertations Publication Date
Thompson, H. 2018. Wintering Ecology of Whooping Cranes in the Eastern Migratory Population. Department of Forestry and Environmental Conservation, Clemson University May 2018