Survival and Nesting Habitat use by Sichuan and Ring-necked Pheasants Released in Ohio
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Citation:The Ohio Journal of Science, v106, n3 (June, 2006), 78-85.
Ring-necked pheasant (Phasianus colchicus) populations in the Midwestern United States have declined drastically since World War II. Population numbers in Ohio have leveled off since the establishment of the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP); however, a return to historically abundant ring-necked pheasant populations is unlikely with current land-use practices. Studies by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) of released Sichuan pheasants (P. c. strauchi), a subspecies of the ring-necked pheasant, suggested that Sichuans may nest in woody cover, a trait that could reduce agriculture-related nest losses common to ring-necked pheasants and potentially increase pheasant populations. We released over 2,000 Sichuan pheasants (962 females, 1,116 males) and 208 ring-necked pheasants (24 females, 84 males) in central Ohio, United States, in early April 1993-96. Survival and habitat use before, during, and after the nesting season were evaluated for a sample of hens from each subspecies through the use of radio-telemetry. Survival rates (range = 0.05-0.15) and apparent nest success (38% and 50% for Sichuan and ring-necked nests, respectively) were not different between the subspecies. The largest source of mortality for both subspecies was predation (71-84% and 65-88%, for Sichuan and ring-necked hens, respectively). Most nests, 85% of Sichuan and 81% of ring-necked, were located in upland herbaceous, upland shrub/scrub, and hay macro-habitat types. Nests of both subspecies were within 16 m of an edge, surrounded by few woody stems (median = 0.25/m2) and dense herbaceous cover (1,450 and 1,130 stems/m2, Sichuan and ring-necked nests, respectively). Sichuan hens selected a higher proportion of forbs (37.5% and 15.0%, Sichuan and ring-necked, respectively) and ring-necked hens selected a higher proportion of grass (17.5% and 37.5%, Sichuan and ring-necked, respectively) within 1.0 m2 of the nest (P ≤ 0.010). Population survey indices suggested that a self-sustaining Sichuan pheasant population was not established.
Author Institution: Ohio Dept of Natural Resources, Division of Wildlife, Olentangy Wildlife Research Station, Ashley, OH
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