During the summer of 1996, 50 radio-tagged, pen-reared Attwater's prairie chickens (Tympanuchus cupido attwateri) were released on Attwater Prairie Chicken National Wildlife Refuge in a restoration effort to supplement a wild population. We evaluated fine-scale habitat use of pen-reared Attwater's prairie chickens during the 1997 nesting season based on 4 variables: obstruction of vision, plant height, litter depth, and percentage of bare ground. Low obstruction of vision (mean = 1.5 dm), plant height (mean = 67.3 cm), and litter depth (mean = 2.7 cm) characterized preferred habitats. Bare ground averaged 16.5% at Attwater's prairie chicken locations compared with 8.2% at random locations. Use locations differed from random locations with respect to visual obstruction (P < 0.001), plant height (P < 0.001), litter depth (P < 0.001), and bare ground (P = 0.007). Potential release sites should be managed using prescribed burning and controlled grazing to produce vegetative structure with an obstruction of vision ≤ 1.5 dm, plant height ≤ 67.3 cm, litter depth ≤ 2.7 cm, and percentage of bare ground ≥ 16.5%), the preferred habitat of pen-reared Attwater's prairie chickens.
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Vol. 58 • No. 3