Landscape Ecology

, Volume 25, Issue 1, pp 135–145 | Cite as

Summer spatial patterning of chukars in relation to free water in western Utah

  • Randy T. Larsen
  • John A. Bissonette
  • Jerran T. Flinders
  • Mevin B. Hooten
  • Tammy L. Wilson
Research Article


Free water is considered important to wildlife in arid regions. In the western United States, thousands of water developments have been built to benefit wildlife in arid landscapes. Agencies and researchers have yet to clearly demonstrate their effectiveness. We combined a spatial analysis of summer chukar (Alectoris chukar) covey locations with dietary composition analysis in western Utah. Our specific objectives were to determine if chukars showed a spatial pattern that suggested association with free water in four study areas and to document summer dietary moisture content in relation to average distance from water. The observed data for the Cedar Mountains study area fell within the middle of the random mean distance to water distribution suggesting no association with free water. The observed mean distance to water for the other three areas was much closer than expected compared to a random spatial process, suggesting the importance of free water to these populations. Dietary moisture content of chukar food items from the Cedar Mountains (59%) was significantly greater (P < 0.05) than that of birds from Box Elder (44%) and Keg-Dugway (44%). Water developments on the Cedar Mountains are likely ineffective for chukars. Spatial patterns on the other areas, however, suggest association with free water and our results demonstrate the need for site-specific considerations. Researchers should be aware of the potential to satisfy water demand with pre-formed and metabolic water for a variety of species in studies that address the effects of wildlife water developments. We encourage incorporation of spatial structure in model error components in future ecological research.


Guzzler Monte Carlo Spatial pattern Spatial structure Water development 



We thank Dean Mitchell, Ernie Perkins, and members of the Utah Upland Game Advisory Committee for their support and volunteer time along with T. Proctor and other members of the Utah Chukar and Wildlife Foundation. Brigham Young University, Carson Valley Chukar Club, Nevada Chukar Foundation, Pershing County Chukars Unlimited, Pheasants Forever, Salt Lake County Fish and Game Association, SportDOG Brand™, Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife, Utah Chukar and Wildlife Foundation, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, Utah State University, and Water for Wildlife Foundation provided financial and logistical support of this research.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Randy T. Larsen
    • 1
  • John A. Bissonette
    • 2
  • Jerran T. Flinders
    • 3
  • Mevin B. Hooten
    • 4
  • Tammy L. Wilson
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of Plant and Wildlife Sciences, 407 WIDBBrigham Young UniversityProvoUSA
  2. 2.United States Geological Survey, Utah Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research UnitUtah State UniversityLoganUSA
  3. 3.Department of Plant and Wildlife Sciences, 275 WIDBBrigham Young UniversityProvoUSA
  4. 4.Department of Mathematics and StatisticsUtah State UniversityLoganUSA
  5. 5.Department of Wildland ResourcesUtah State UniversityLoganUSA

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