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Ruffed Grouse Biological Literature


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This morning I was talking to a friend who is interested in ruffed grouse biology in general.  We were talking about what might be the most pressing questions to answer about ruffed grouse in the upper Midwest.  I don't really have an opinion on that since I don't know the grouse literature, and I'm hardly a regular grouse hunter, much less a grouse biologist.  But interesting nonetheless.  

 

However, that got me to thinking about what hunters would consider the biggest question mark in grouse biology right now.  Certainly habitat requirements are done to death. I imagine predator pressure and perhaps West Nile (but perhaps not) has been and still is similarly under close scrutiny.  Since Grouse seem to be pretty darn popular here - what do you guys think needs research attention?

 

Secondly, just so I can keep up with the Joneses, it might be worth my while to read up a little on grouse biology in the secondary literature.  In perusing the offerings on Amazon, this seems to be a mostly dead topic with most publications being from the mid20th century.  Edminster comes up as particularly popular (in the for sale column anyway).  Is there a book that most would agree is the "best" on general ruffed grouse ecology - specifically for the upper Midwest, versus the East Coast or Rockies, if that matters?

 

Anyway, just two general questions that many of you surely have more experience with than I.

 

Thanks.

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WindyHills

Gordon Gullions books are worth seeking out.  Much of what we know comes from research publications rather than books, however. 

 

And I wouldn't say we know all there is to know about habitat. 

 

We could still learn more about the impact of a few factors, IMO:. High density atv or other motorized access on mortality rates (earlier works in Mn-(Gullion) and WI-(Kubisiak I believe?) Suggested human mortality may become additive when hunter access coverage is very high.

 

The one that wasn't on the radar in the days of Gullion and Rusch and others of their vintage would be the impact of climate change on overwinter survival...and if we can manage habitat to mitigate that impact. 

 

When your norm of months straight of good snow roosting conditions is replaced by multiple rain events...in winter...and entire winters with poor snow roosting conditions, it's bound to have some impact. 

 

We think the importance of young conifer cover for roosting is greatly increased now, and there some suggestion of that from research--but I fear survival still takes a hit vs winter long good snow roosting conditions. 

 

And to get the young conifer cover we need to hold stands to older ages before harvesting them than the very young ages often in use these days.

 

 

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Thanks for the comments.  I was just reading a nice treatise on Gullion published by the RGS.  I have one of his books targeted, but looking for the cheaper copies (some are in excess of $800).  

 

I have to believe there is lots to learn about ATV impacts.  It appears that many are actually hunting from ATVs - which surprised the heck out of me.  How things have changed in my near 50-yr absence.  Then there is the ATVing for the sake of ATVing - an industry that I was blissfully unaware of until recently.  The traffic level on trails in some national and state forests is phenomenal.  

 

Your comments about the snow issues and the need for alternative roosting cover are good ones.  

 

I imagine that more modern forestry practices have quite different impacts than the clearcutting of old, but this must be well studied, I suspect.  

 

Disease certainly stands out as one thing that may be huge in impact and we now have so many much better tools than before.  The increase in ticks in the habitats that I hunted as a child are a sight to behold.  Whether this has any direct or indirect effect on grouse would be something to know.  I would think it has the potential to be of substantial impact, either positive or negative.

 

I have seen quite a few turkeys where there once were none, though how far north they go, I have yet to determine.  Presumably there would be some significant foraging overlap in some seasons that may contribute to mortality later in the year.  

 

In any event, thanks for the comments.  

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