Between 4 January and 15 May 1988, we captured 16 female and 10 male ring-necked pheasants (Phasianus colchicus) in north-central Maryland at the southern edge of their North American range and fitted them with radiotransmitters. We monitored their movements on an agricultural landscape encompassing 2002 ha from the day of capture until death, transmitter failure or 15 December 1988. Eight of 16 females and seven of 10 males survived to the nesting season. Predation accounted for 61% of the mortality of adult pheasants. Seven males and 12 females, each with ≥30 fixes per analytical time period (winter, nesting, postnesting or maximum), were used in analysis of home and core ranges, seasonal movements and habitat selection and use. Home range sizes did not differ significantly between sexes or among seasons. Pheasants had significantly larger core ranges during the nesting season than during winter or postnesting seasons. Pheasants selected home ranges with a higher proportion of shrublands and wetlands than expected from availability within the study area. A comparison of habitat use within core ranges to that available within home ranges in winter showed that forests were significantly less used than wetlands, croplands, shrublands and developed lands. There were no significant differences in proportional habitat use of home versus core ranges during the nesting season. Based on our study, conservation measures should include (1) enhancing preferred nesting cover by compensating landowners for delaying or not mowing hay fields or leaving crop fields fallow and (2) providing suitable dispersed male territory cover (i.e., shrubs or woody cover at crop borders) around existing patches of winter cover (i.e., wetlands and shrublands) and in close proximity to nesting cover.
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Vol. 141 • No. 1