Date of Award
Master of Science (MS)
Dr. Elmer J. Finck
A “guzzler” is any structure that stores and supplements water for wildlife populations. They are often used to target economically influential game species where water is thought to be potentially limiting. Upland game, like the ring-necked pheasant (Phasianus colchicus) in the semi-arid landscape of western Kansas, represent such populations as guzzlers have become common practice in wildlife management applications across the region, especially on lands enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). However, little is known about the spatial response, if any, of wildlife populations to guzzlers or the potential increased risk they pose for predation. From June to August of 2011 and 2012 my project used occupancy modeling techniques to identify if guzzlers potentially influenced occupancy by Phasianus colchicus and their potential predators (i.e., mesocarnivores) on CRP lands in western Kansas. Phasianus colchicus detection was most explained by month of survey (highest in June; P < 0.001), with occupancy being most influenced by distance from edge and percent forb cover at cameras, and land cover type at sites (camera data aggregated). For mesocarnivores, guzzler was the top performing habitat feature for explaining detection at cameras, but only raccoon (Procyon lotor) had guzzler best explain detection across sites as well. This suggested that increased predation near guzzlers, especially from an efficient nest predator like P. lotor, might be possible. While controlling for differences in detection, however, guzzlers did not perform well for explaining any target species occupancy. However, future studies are needed to truly evaluate this potential, as well as to assess the capacity for guzzlers to augment local population abundance, even if only during times of drought.
Calderon, Brandon L., "Evaluating The Effect Of Water Supplementation On Ring-Necked Pheasant And Mesocarnivore Occupancy In Western Kansas" (2016). Master's Theses. 30.
© 2016 Brandon L. Calderon