Ecology, population dynamics, and management of the midcontinent sandhill crane population

Sandhill cranes are a long-lived bird found in many wetland-rich landscapes across North America.  The midcontinent population of sandhill cranes is the largest population in North America, comprising approximately 650,000 individuals.  They breed from western Quebec in the east, across the Canadian Arctic and Alaska to northeastern Russia in the west in a variety of ecoregions from Arctic tundra to temperate grasslands.  This population winters from southern Oklahoma to northern Mexico, using playa and coastal wetlands.  Long-term changes in the Platte River ecosystem pose a potential threat to this population as does declining high-energy food, prompting long-term investigations to better understand current problems facing this population of cranes and the contributions of the Platte River Valley and other spring stopovers during migration in meeting needs of these migrating birds.   The population is also widely hunted in the Central Flyway of North America and four subpopulations have been suggested for management purposes.  Preliminary information suggests that two of these subpopulations may be disproportionately harvested, which could have implications for future management.  Research is planned to obtain improved estimates of survival rates, population size, and recruitment rates to provide crane managers with greater insight into these key parameters when making decisions concerning harvest regulations.

Principal Investigator(s):

Gary L Krapu

Aaron T Pearse

Project Status:

In Progress



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