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Tuesday, January 26 • 3:40pm - 4:00pm
Designing A Survey For Spruce Grouse In Minnesota: A Pilot Study (2014–2015)

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AUTHORS: Charlotte Roy*, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources John Giudice, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Chris Scharenbroich, Minnesota Information Technology Services, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

ABSTRACT: Minnesota is unique among Lake States in having a sizeable spruce grouse population that still permits spruce grouse hunting. Spruce grouse exist at the southern edge of their range in Minnesota and are expected to experience climate change-induced habitat loss. Yet, we have sparse data on spruce grouse distribution and no data on population size or trends. Data collection began in 2014 for a 2-year pilot study to develop survey methodology for spruce grouse in Minnesota. We examined 2 methods of spruce grouse detection along road-based points, broadcast of a cantus call and a pellet survey. Spruce grouse responses to the cantus call were more frequently detected earlier in the day, earlier in the broadcast period, earlier in the season, and when habitat occurred on both sides of the road. Pellet surveys along circular transects centered on call survey points (i.e., 100 m radii) had 5 times the apparent detection rate [proportion of points with detections] of call surveys (20% and 4%, respectively) in 2014 and were more flexible in implementation. In 2015, we refined our survey methodology to increase detection, added a study area to include both peripheral and more central portions of the distribution, and conducted pellet and call surveys at paired points on and off roads. The apparent detection rate of both the call (13%) and pellet (64%) surveys was higher in 2015 in the peripheral area, and was similar both on and off roads. In the central study area, apparent detection was higher off roads with both methods (25% call, 80% pellet), but detection on roads was similar to the peripheral area. We will pilot a road-based pellet survey at a large scale in 2016. A pellet survey may overcome practical limitations of call-based surveys to provide a regularly repeating index to spruce grouse populations.

Tuesday January 26, 2016 3:40pm - 4:00pm EST
Vandenberg A