, Volume 24, Issue 1, pp 15-24

Dispersion of displaying male sage grouse

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Summary

The degree to which male sage grouse select lek sites and females select nesting sites to maximize proximity to the other sex was examined by contrasting male dispersions with the dispersions and movements of females in the months preceeding incubation. Wintering females exhibit highly overlapping ranges due to shared use of central refuging areas. In late winter and early spring, females move an average 9 km from wintering areas to select nest sites and males begin occupying leks. Pooled evidence suggests that females select nest sites independently of male dispersion whereas males adjust lek occupation so as to maximize proximity to females. Relevant observations include females visiting nest sites before leks, moving further to select a nest site than to select a lek, and increasing their distance to leks as a result of selecting nest sites. In addition, males avoid leks until females have moved to within 5 km of the arenas, abandon early season leks as local female densities drop, and exhibit dispersions in which mean ratios of females/male are similar across leks. Contrasts between predicted and observed dispersions of males showed that hotspot settlement models are adequate to explain male dispersions on very coarse scales (2 km or greater); on finer scales, habitat preferences of males and tendencies for males to cluster tightly must be invoked in addition to hotspots to explain specific lek sitings.