Male lesser prairie-chicken with VHF collar.

I am a research associate under the guidance of Dr. David Haukos at the Kansas Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Kansas State University. I completed my doctoral research with Dr. Haukos in September, 2020. My dissertation focused 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 is a species of conservation concern through its range. 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 examined 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. My doctoral research also examined range-wide morphometric trends, including nutrient reserves, by ecoregion and drought conditions.