Factors affecting the demography of a lek-mating bird: the greater prairie-chicken

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dc.contributor.author Nooker, Jacqueline Kay
dc.date.accessioned 2007-08-07T19:54:37Z
dc.date.available 2007-08-07T19:54:37Z
dc.date.issued 2007-08-07T19:54:37Z
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/2097/375
dc.description.abstract Sexual selection via female choice and male-male aggression leads to elaboration of male traits. If male traits correlated with reproductive success are honest signals of male quality, survival costs may be associated with the expression of those traits. Testosterone (hereafter ‘T’) may enhance male breeding success, but T can also reduce immunocompetence and survival. Socially monogamous male birds with higher circulating T experience reproductive advantages, but the role of T in lek mating systems is largely unknown. To address these issues, I individually marked and conducted focal behavioral observations of greater prairie-chickens (Tympanuchus cupido) at five lek sites over a 5-year period. Females were fitted with radio-telemetry to monitor nesting success and survival. I examined the relationship between male traits and mating success using multinomial discrete choice models, a statistical method not previously applied to studies of sexual selection. Male mating success was highly skewed at greater prairie-chicken leks with 18.5% of males obtaining 87.2% of all successful copulations (n = 108 males; 85 copulations). Mating success was influenced most by male behavior, followed by several morphological attributes. The role of T was quantified using blood samples and by experimentally implanting a subset of males with T. T did not consistently affect mating success. Non-territorial males had lower T levels than territorial males. Among territory holders, T was unexpectedly negatively correlated with mating success. However, the odds of receiving a copulation were 4.3 times (0.42 to 45.3) greater for T-implanted males than males with sham implants. Future work should explore the interactions among the immune system, parasite load, and mating success of prairie-chickens. Annual survival of male prairie-chickens was not related to mating success, behavior, age or T level, suggesting there is no cost of increased male mating success. Like males, reproductive success of females was also highly skewed because < 10% of nests successfully hatched young. Comparisons of seasonal and annual survival rates indicate that females experience increased mortality during the breeding season relative to the nonbreeding season. Synthesis of field estimates of demographic parameters indicates prairie-chicken populations will decline without changes in rangeland management to reduce predator numbers or provide more nesting cover. en
dc.description.sponsorship National Science Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant; National Science Foundation Epscor Grant; American Ornithologists' Union en
dc.language.iso en_US en
dc.publisher Kansas State University en
dc.subject Grouse en
dc.subject Female mate choice en
dc.subject Survival en
dc.subject Testosterone en
dc.subject Reproductive success en
dc.subject Sexual selection en
dc.subject Nest success en
dc.title Factors affecting the demography of a lek-mating bird: the greater prairie-chicken en
dc.type Dissertation en
dc.description.degree Doctor of Philosophy en
dc.description.level Doctoral en
dc.description.department Department of Biology en
dc.description.advisor Brett K. Sandercock en
dc.subject.umi Biology, General (0306) en
dc.date.published 2007 en
dc.date.graduationmonth August en


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