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Lesser prairie-chicken (Tympanuchus pallidicinctus) populations have declined by >90% since the 1800s. These declines have concerned both biologists and private conservation groups and led to a petition to list the lesser prairie-chicken as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Most of the land in the current range of the lesser prairie-chicken is privately owned, and declines have been primarily attributed to anthropogenic factors. Conversion of native rangeland to cropland and excessive grazing have been implicated as leading causes in the species' decline. Periodic drought probably has exacerbated these problems. Little research on habitat requirements was conducted prior to 1970. Despite recent advances in the knowledge of lesser prairie-chicken ecology, no comprehensive guidelines for management of the species have been published. In these guidelines, we provide a synopsis of our current knowledge of lesser prairie-chicken habitat requirements and suggest management strategies to monitor, maintain, and enhance lesser prairie-chicken populations.
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Guidelines for managing lesser prairie-chicken populations and their habitats