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Invertebrates are important food sources for lesser prairie-chicken (Tympanuchus pallidicinctus) adults and broods. We compared invertebrate biomass in areas used and not used by lesser prairie-chicken adults and broods. We used radiotelemetry to determine use and non-use areas in sand sagebrush (Artemisia filifolia) prairie in southwestern Kansas and sampled invertebrate populations during summer 1998 and 1999. Sweepnet-collected biomass of short-horned grasshoppers (Acrididae) and total invertebrate biomass generally were greater in habitats used by lesser prairie-chickens than in paired non-use areas. We detected no differences in pitfall-collected biomass of Acrididae (P=0.81) or total invertebrate biomass (P=0.93) among sampling areas with sand sagebrush canopy cover of 0 to 10%, 11 to 30%, and >30%. Results of multivariate analysis and regression model selection suggested that forbs were more strongly associated with invertebrate biomass than shrubs, grasses, or bare ground. We could not separate lesser prairie-chicken selection for areas of forb cover from selection of areas with greater invertebrate biomass associated with forb cover. Regardless of whether the effects of forbs were direct or indirect, their importance in sand sagebrush habitat has management implications. Practices that maintain or increase forb cover likely will increase invertebrate biomass and habitat quality in southwestern Kansas.
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Invertebrate biomass: associations with lesser prairie-chicken habitat use and sand sagebrush density in southwestern Kansas