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

Kaczor, N.W., K. C. Jensen, R. W. Klaver, M. A. Rumble, K. M. Herman Brunson, C. C. Swanson. 2011. Nesting success and resource selection of greater sage-grouse in South Dakota. Studies in Avian Biology 39:107-118.


Declines of Greater Sage-Grouse ( Centrocercus urophasianus) in South Dakota are a concern because further population declines may lead to isolation from populations in Wyoming and Montana. Furthermore, little information exists about reproductive ecology and resource selection of sage grouse on the eastern edge of their distribution. We investigated Greater Sage-Grouse nesting success and resource selection in South Dakota during 2006–2007. Radiomarked females were tracked to estimate nesting rates, nest success, and habitat resources selected for nesting. Nest initiation was 98.0%, with a maximum likelihood estimate of nest success of 45.6 5.3%. Females selected nest sites that had greater sagebrush canopy cover and visual obstruction of the nest bowl compared to random sites. Nest survival models indicated that taller grass surrounding nests increased nest survival. Tall grass may supplement the low sagebrush cover in this area in providing suitable nest sites for Greater Sage-Grouse. Land managers on the eastern edge of Greater Sage-Grouse range could focus on increasing sagebrush density while maintaining tall grass by developing range management practices that accomplish this goal. To achieve nest survival rates similar to other populations, predictions from our models suggest 26 cm grass height would result in approximately 50% nest survival. Optimal conditions could be accomplished by adjusting livestock grazing systems and stocking rates.