Conservation Genetics

, Volume 12, Issue 5, pp 1205–1214

Low effective population size and survivorship in a grassland grouse


    • Sutton Avian Research CenterUniversity of Oklahoma
    • Department of Biological SciencesFlorida Institute of Technology
  • J. A. Johnson
    • Department of Biological Sciences and Institute of Applied SciencesUniversity of North Texas
  • L. C. Larsson
    • Sutton Avian Research CenterUniversity of Oklahoma
  • D. H. Wolfe
    • Sutton Avian Research CenterUniversity of Oklahoma
  • M. A. Patten
    • Sutton Avian Research CenterUniversity of Oklahoma
    • Oklahoma Biological Survey and Department of ZoologyUniversity of Oklahoma
Research Article

DOI: 10.1007/s10592-011-0223-z

Cite this article as:
Pruett, C.L., Johnson, J.A., Larsson, L.C. et al. Conserv Genet (2011) 12: 1205. doi:10.1007/s10592-011-0223-z


Assessments of census size (N c) and effective population size (N e) are necessary for the conservation of species exhibiting population declines. We examined two populations (Oklahoma and New Mexico) of the lesser prairie-chicken (Tympanuchus pallidicinctus), a declining lek-breeding bird, in which one population (Oklahoma) has larger clutch size and more nesting attempts per year but lower survival caused by human changes to the landscape. We estimated demographic and genetic estimates of N e for each population and found that both populations have low N e estimates with a risk of inbreeding depression. Although Oklahoma females produce a larger number of offspring, the proportion of females successfully reproducing is not higher than in New Mexico. Higher reproductive effort has likely reached a physiological limit in Oklahoma prairie-chickens but has not led to a higher N e or even a larger N c than New Mexico. We propose that future conservation efforts focus on maximizing survivorship and decreasing the variance in reproductive success because these factors are more likely than increasing reproductive output alone to yield population persistence in lek-breeding species.


Lek Lesser prairie-chicken Microsatellite loci Mitochondrial DNA Tympanuchus pallidicinctus

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011