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1 September 2009 Efficacy of two Variations on an Aerial Lek-Count Method for Greater Sage-Grouse
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Greater Sage-Grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) is a species of concern, and accurate population data are needed to monitor conservation management efforts. Conventional, ground-based lek counts are labor-intensive, expensive, and have several sources of potential error and bias, including the practical limits on number and distribution of leks counted. We tested aerial methods for photographing multiple leks during a single morning. We completed 14 aerial approaches to 6 leks in 2 different years using 2 different airplanes and altitudes. Grouse flushed from leks on 12 approaches when the airplane was within 200–300 m of the lek. In 2 instances, strutting grouse crouched and stayed on the lek. Our highest-resolution images increased our confidence in grouse identification but also decreased field-of-view coverage to the detriment of count accuracy. The methods we tested do not allow sage-grouse to be accurately counted, but the results provide information about sage-grouse responses to low-altitude airplane approaches and about useful image resolutions and fields of view.

© 2009
D.T. Booth, S.E. Cox, G.E. Simonds, and B. Elmore "Efficacy of two Variations on an Aerial Lek-Count Method for Greater Sage-Grouse," Western North American Naturalist 69(3), 413-416, (1 September 2009).
Received: 24 November 2008; Accepted: 1 May 2009; Published: 1 September 2009

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