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Keywords:

  • Black Hills National Forest;
  • Bonasa umbellus;
  • detection probability;
  • drumming surveys;
  • occupancy modeling;
  • ruffed grouse

Abstract

Ruffed grouse (Bonasa umbellus) are a popular game bird and the management indicator species for quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides) in the Black Hills National Forest (BHNF), which requires development of a robust monitoring protocol to evaluate trends in ruffed grouse populations. We used roadside drumming surveys in spring 2007 and 2008 to estimate ruffed grouse occupancy and detection probabilities in the BHNF while simultaneously assessing the influence of sampling and site covariates on these processes. Ruffed grouse occupancy estimates were constant between spring 2007 and 2008 (Ψ = 0.12, SE = 0.03) and were positively influenced by the amount of aspen surrounding the site. Detection probability estimates were constant between spring 2007 and 2008 (p = 0.27, SE = 0.06) and were influenced by survey date in a quadratic form and negatively influenced by wind speed and time of the survey. Collectively, our results demonstrated that ruffed grouse occupancy and detection probabilities in the BHNF were low. Occupancy could be increased by increasing the extent of aspen. To improve monitoring efficiency and maximize probability of detecting ruffed grouse, ruffed grouse monitoring should be conducted during the peak of drumming (mid-May), during favorable weather conditions such as low wind speeds and little precipitation, and during early morning, near sunrise. © 2010 The Wildlife Society.