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Ranging behaviour of male capercaillie Tetrao urogallus outside the lekking ground in spring


  • Sigrunn Eliassen,

  • Per Wegge

S. Eliassen, Department of Biology, University of Bergen, PO Box 7800, N-5020 Bergen, Norway. – Per Wegge (correspondence), Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Department of Ecology and Natural Resource Management, PO Box 5003, N-1432 Ås, Norway. E-mail:


During the breeding season, adult male capercaillies Tetrao urogallus display on leks in the early morning. During the day, they occupy more or less exclusive home ranges within 1 km of the lekking ground, but little is known about their movements and range use patterns during this period. In three spring seasons we monitored the daily movement of 15 radio-tagged adult males, associated with six different leks, in a coniferous forest of southeast Norway. The objective was to relate dynamics of male movement and spatial distribution to changes in food resource availability and mating-related activities. In late winter, males exhibited a pattern of short daily relocations (distance between bird locations in successive days) within small ranges. Relocation distances and home ranges then increased markedly during two weeks preceeding the main mating period. During the mating and post-mating periods, movements again decreased, followed by another short peak at the time when females with depredated nests return to the lek for remating. These temporal changes in range use were not related to changes in food resources and probably not to shifts in anti-predator behaviour, and they differed between age groups: The increase in relocation distance during the pre-mating period was most pronounced among young resident males (3 and 4 year-olds), and range area of older males were smaller and did not increase as much during this period. The observed age-related changes in space use may reflect an alternative mating strategy by young and subdominant males; they seek out females outside the lekking ground where competition from more dominant males is less intense.