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IMG_2273
Male lesser prairie-chicken with VHF collar.

I am a Ph.D. candidate under the guidance of Dr. David Haukos at the Kansas Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Kansas State University. My doctoral research focuses on the lesser prairie-chicken (Tympanuchus pallidicinctus), a lek-breeding species of prairie grouse. Lek-breeding birds are famous for elaborate male courtship displays, where males perform for female selection but do not contribute to paternal care. While leks are fascinating all on their own, understanding lek formation and continuity across years is of particular conservation importance for the lesser prairie-chicken, which was considered for federal listing as a threatened species in 2014. Counts of males on leks provide population estimates and may limit abilities to establish birds into extirpated parts of their native range. My doctoral research examines factors determining where leks form, why some leks persist into multiple years while others disappear, the characteristics of the birds attending, and the role of lek social structure to determine the outcome of bird translocation.