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Adaptive Strategies and Population Ecology of Northern Grouse: Volume 1. Population Studies

Arthur T. Bergerud
Michael W. Gratson
Copyright Date: 1988
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 444
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  • Book Info
    Adaptive Strategies and Population Ecology of Northern Grouse
    Book Description:

    This book is at once a major reference to the species of grouse that inhabit North America and the Holarctic and a synthesis of all the available data on their ecology, sociobiology, population dynamics, and management. The book undertakes to answer two long-standing questions in population ecology: what actually regulates the numbers within a population, and what are the breeding and survival strategies evolved in this northern environment? For Volume I, editors Arthur T. Bergerud and Michael W. Gratson have drawn together their own work and that of colleagues in North America, Iceland, and Norway - in all, eleven research studies, averaging six years’ duration, on eight species of grouse. These studies deal with the blue and ruffed grouse of the forest habitat; the sharp-tailed grouse, prairie chicken, and sage grouse of the prairie or steppe; and the white-tailed, rick, and willow ptarmigan found in alpine and arctic tundras. The authors describe the rich repertoire of behavior patterns developed by the hen and the cock to achieve their two primary objectives - first, to stay alive, and then to breed. Volume II, primarily the work of Bergerud, synthesizes the evidence in Volume I and in the grouse research literature from a theoretical perspective. Several potentially controversial sociobiological hypotheses are advanced to account for flocking behavior, migration, dispersal, roosting and feeding behavior, mate choice and mating systems. The demographic analysis provides new insights into cycles of abundance, the limitation of numbers, and the demographic factors that determine densities. The contributors, besides Bergerud and Gratson: R. C. Davies, A. Gardarson, J. E. Hartzler, R. A. Huempfner, D. A. Jenni, D. H. Mossop, S. Myrberget, R. E. Page, R. K. Schmidt, W. D. Svedarsky, and J. R. Tester.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-5536-6
    Subjects: Zoology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-v)
  2. Authors
    (pp. vi-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-x)
    A. T. Bergerud
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Table of Contents
    (pp. xiii-xxiv)
  6. Part I. Population Studies


      • 1 Relation Between Aggressive Behavior and Population Dynamics of Blue Grouse
        (pp. 3-28)
        D. H. Mossop

        Blue grouse (Dendragapus obscurus) on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, have provided the material for one of North America’s longest studies of grouse population ecology. In 1966 the investigation initiated by Fowle (1944, 1960) and carried on largely by Bendell (1954, 1955a,b), Zwickel (1965, 1967), and associates reached a crossroad that became graphic only in retrospect. These studies arrived at the general conclusion that breeding numbers were remarkably stable when compared with the large variations in natality and losses of young. This phenomenon of stable numbers was observed in several populations, although between areas large differences were observed (Bendell & Elliot...

      • 2 Demography and Behavior of Insular Blue Grouse Populations
        (pp. 29-77)
        A. T. Bergerud

        The Chitty hypothesis (Chitty 1967) of population regulation predicts that the phenotypic and genotypic qualities of animals in increasing and decreasing populations differ in fitness components. Individuals in declining populations have been selected for their competitive abilities during peak numbers; individuals from increasing populations, although inferior in competitive abilities, are genetically better suited to colonize vacant habitats and are superior in reproduction as a result of selection pressures at low densities.

        In Chapter 1, Mossop partly tested the Chitty hypothesis by comparing the demography and behavior of birds in an increasing population of blue grouse (Dendragapus obscurus) at Copper Canyon...

      • 3 Demography and Behavior of Ruffed Grouse in British Columbia
        (pp. 78-121)
        R. G. Davies and A. T. Bergerud

        A basic problem in ecology is to determine the limiting factors that prevent natural populations from continuing to increase. Especially intriguing also are the wide and regular fluctuations (cycles) in the numbers of some grouse species in Canada (Keith 1963). Chitty (1967) recommended that students study the demography of fluctuating rather than stationary populations to understand the mechanics of population change. Chitty’s (1967) hypothesis of density-dependent selection emphasizes the behavior and genetics of animals in increasing and decreasing phases of population growth. We elected to study the demography of ruffed grouse (Bonasa umbellus) in central British Columbia to investigate this...

      • 4 Winter Arboreal Feeding Behavior of Ruffed Grouse in East-Central Minnesota
        (pp. 122-157)
        R. A. Huempfner and J. R. Tester

        A number of studies have shown the relative importance of aspen (Populusspp.) in the winter diet of ruffed grouse (Bonasa umbellus), especially in northern parts of their range where snow cover persists for 4 to 6 months (Bump et al. 1947, Korschgen 1966, Gullion & Marshall 1968, Huff 1970, 1973, Schemnitz 1970, Svoboda & Gullion 1972, Doerr et al. 1974, and others). Bailey et al. (1955) were perhaps the first to note the similarity between the ranges of ruffed grouse and of trembling Aspen (Populus tremuloides) in North America. Many questions remain, however, pertaining to criteria used by grouse...


      • 5 Spatial Patterns, Movements, and Cover Selection by Sharp-tailed Grouse
        (pp. 158-192)
        M. W. Gratson

        The sharp-tailed grouse (Tympanuchus phasianellus) is one of three North American tetraonids that live in steppe habitats—grasslands, savannas, and sagebrush (Artemisiaspp.) plains—that show communal advertising by males at leks, and that are the most mobile of grouse. Demographic aspects of the lekking grouse also set them apart from the ptarmigan (Lagopusspp.) and forest species, perhaps as a result of unique characteristics associated with the steppe.

        This chapter presents evidence of changing spacing behaviors, daily and seasonal movements, and cover-selection patterns of male and female sharp-tailed grouse from data gathered during a study of three populations in...

      • 6 Reproductive Ecology of Female Greater Prairie Chickens in Minnesota
        (pp. 193-239)
        W. D. Svedarsky

        The greater prairie chicken (Tympanuchus cupido pinnatus) has declined in recent years, particularly in the eastern portion of its range (Christisen 1969). Intensified farming, overgrazing, and woody plant succession are the major factors diminishing the grassland habitat upon which prairie chickens depend. These factors probably exert the greatest effect on populations by limiting reproduction. Hamerstrom et al. (1957) and Kirsch (1974) noted that, of the various seasonal habitat needs, nesting and brood-rearing habitat appear to be the universal limiting factor for prairie chickens.

        Spring and summer ecology of females and broods is not well understood. Hamerstrom and Hamerstrom (1973; p....

      • 7 Mate Choice by Female Sage Grouse
        (pp. 240-269)
        J. E. Hartzler and D. A. Jenni

        The communal displays of male sage grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) are by themselves spectacular enough to attract and intrigue biologists. Moreover, it is especially interesting that all females attending a particular lek mate with only a few of the many males available to them. This strong sexual selection shown by hens attracts the attention of sociobiologists and evolutionary biologists. Many efforts have attempted to understand the evolution of leks (Wittenberger 1978, Bradbury 1981), or to discover the basis of mate selection (Wiley 1973b, Gibson & Bradbury 1985). This paper addresses some proximal questions; we are especially interested in discovering what happens...


      • 8 Behavior of White-tailed Ptarmigan during the Breeding Season
        (pp. 270-299)
        R. K. Schmidt

        The white-tailed ptarmigan (Lagopus leucurus) is the smallest grouse and the only species of ptarmigan whose range is not circumpolar. White-tailed ptarmigan occupy alpine regions of the Rocky Mountain Cordillera, from Alaska and Yukon Territory south to Colorado and parts of New Mexico, with isolated populations extending into the Cascade Ranges of the Pacific Northwest. In Alaska and northwestern Canada they coexist with rock and willow ptarmigan (L. mutusandL. lagopus, respectively), although these latter species generally favor less-exposed tundra and tundra-edge habitats found at lower elevations (Weeden 1959a,b).

        Over the past 15 years, a good deal of research...

      • 9 Cyclic Population Changes and Some Related Events in Rock Ptarmigan in Iceland
        (pp. 300-329)
        A. Gardarsson

        The aim of this paper is to describe the main results of a population study of rock ptarmigan (Lagopus mutus) in Iceland, and to offer some observations that may improve our understanding of population cycles. Demographic events during 1963–70 are examined in relation to spacing behavior and food. Population work was initiated by the late Dr. Finnur Gudmundsson in 1963. My field work, centered on spacing and food, was carried out in close cooperation with him during 1965–69.

        The vertebrate herbivores native to Iceland are all birds, including several anatids and one gallinaceous bird, the rock ptarmigan. Like...

      • 10 Winter Survival and Spring Breeding Strategies of Willow Ptarmigan
        (pp. 330-378)
        D. H. Mossop

        Willow and rock ptarmigan (Lagopus lagopusandL. mutus) in North America demonstrate classic, 9- to 11-year cyclic fluctuations in numbers (Bergerud 1970a, Weeden & Theberge 1972). I studied willow ptarmigan in Northern British Columbia from 1970 to 1974 to test some of the hypotheses that have been proposed to explain these regular fluctuations in numbers of breeding birds. In particular, I examined whether social behavior of willow ptarmigan in the winter or during the spring breeding period limited their numbers.

        Winter is the dominant season in the environment for these grouse that spend their complete annual cycles at high...

      • 11 Demography of an Island Population of Willow Ptarmigan in Northern Norway
        (pp. 379-420)
        S. Myrberget

        Many boreal and arctic bird and mammal populations show cyclic fluctuations, that is, they exhibit a significant tendency for variations in numbers to be repeated at intervals more regular than expected if occurring by chance (Keith 1963, Angelstam et al. 1985). Population cycles of willow ptarmigan (Lagopus lagopus) at 3-to 4-year intervals in Norway (Hagen 1952b), 6 years in Scotland (Williams 1974), and 10 years in Newfoundland (Bergerud 1971) demonstrate that the length of the interval is characteristic of the region and not of the species. Most Norwegian ptarmigan populations also fluctuate in synchrony with the 3-to 4-year cycles of...

  7. Part II Theory and Synthesis

    • 12 A Genetic Explanation for Ten-Year Cycles of Grouse
      (pp. 423-438)
      R. E. Page and A. T. Bergerud

      With the exception of a few specific cases, there is still no general answer to the question “Why do populations of animals cease growing and not continue to increase without limit?” (Pielou 1977, Krebs 1978b). Population ecology as science has no universal paradigm under which it operates (Kuhn 1962, Lakatos & Musgrave 1965).

      Dennis Chitty (1958) proposed an encompassing theory, that all animals have the ability to self-regulate their population levels below resource limits. The theory was intuitively appealing, but initially was not sufficiently precise to provide much direction for research programs, or to allow falsification by empirical testing. Pitelka...

    • 13 Mating Systems in Grouse
      (pp. 439-472)
      A. T. Bergerud

      The evolution of mating systems can be best understood by determining the fitness costs and benefits of various reproductive options available to individual males and females (Wittenberger 1979), within the framework of sexual selection and parental investment theory (Darwin 1871, Trivers 1972). Such an approach permits the environmental constraints impinging on the options to be identified, leading to an integrated theory (Wittenberger 1979).

      Mating-system theory is well advanced in the study of birds, and the grouse (Tetraonidae) has received special emphasis (Wiley 1974, Wittenberger 1978, Bradbury 1981, Oring 1982). It is especially intriguing that all three ptarmigan species—white-tailed ptarmigan...

    • 14 Survival and Breeding Strategies of Grouse
      (pp. 473-577)
      A. T. Bergerud and M. W. Gratson

      The first rule of natural selection is not to maximize reproduction, but to stay alive. Grouse must choose activities that maximize survival before they can proceed to those that maximize lifetime reproduction. The solution to these two fitness problems, to live and to breed, depends upon the evolution of satisfactory life-history strategies and tactics through the survival of fit individuals. A strategy may be defined as “a set of rules that determines which of several alternative behavioral tactics is employed to solve a particular problem or to achieve a particular goal,” and a tactic as “a behavior pattern within a...

    • 15 Population Ecology of North American Grouse
      (pp. 578-685)
      A. T. Bergerud

      The first synthesis of the demography of North American grouse was thirty years ago when J. J. Hickey (1955) reviewed the then current literature. His review emphasized census methodology, the age and sex structure of populations, and the question of fluctuations and cycles in the numbers of grouse. Johnsgard (1973) also reviewed the current literature, but emphasized life-history characteristics of species. In the past ten years, wildlife biologists have been actively counting grouse, determining the sex and age composition of the living and the dead, calculating mortality rates, and searching for nests. Radiotelemetry has allowed biologists at last to find...

    • 16 Increasing the Numbers of Grouse
      (pp. 686-732)
      A. T. Bergerud

      A tendency of management biologists is to proceed on the basis that if there is more habitat, it follows that there will be more grouse. It is true that habitat is the template for population growth, but it is only a necessary, and not a sufficient, precondition. Mortality rates are generally fixed by the predator-cover complex in which grouse live. For a population to increase, breeding success must be greater than that needed to stabilize numbers. The strategy of management should be to improve reproductive success.

      The format of this chapter generally follows the topic outline discussed by Aldo Leopold...

  8. References
    (pp. 735-778)
  9. Index
    (pp. 781-809)
  10. Back Matter
    (pp. 810-810)