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Tuesday, February 7 • 10:20am - 10:40am
Technical Session. Range Overlap Between Mid-Continent and Eastern Populations of Sandhill Cranes Revealed Through GPS Tracking

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AUTHORS: David Wolfson, University of Minnesota; John Fieberg, Department of Fisheries, University of Minnesota; Tom Cooper, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; Jeff Lawrence, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources; David Andersen, Minnesota Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit

ABSTRACT: Sandhill cranes are long-lived birds with relatively low recruitment rates, making accurate knowledge of abundance and distribution critical for well-informed harvest management. Minnesota is the only state to contain breeding populations of both the Eastern Population (EP) and Mid-Continent Population (MCP) of greater sandhill cranes (Grus canadensis tabida). Historically, the breeding range of MCP cranes in Minnesota was restricted to the extreme northwestern portion of the state, whereas the breeding range of EP cranes was limited to the east-central part of the state with a large area of separation between the two populations. Whereas MCP cranes have exhibited stable population estimates over time, EP cranes are currently experiencing a significant increase in population size and a concurrent increase in breeding range. Our objectives were to evaluate the current range boundaries of the 2 populations and to determine the extent of overlap on their breeding, staging, and wintering grounds. We captured and attached Global Positioning System-Global System for Mobile Communications (GPS-GSM) transmitters to 50 cranes in the zone between the historical breeding range boundaries of the 2 populations during April-November of 2014 and 2015. Movements of captured cranes revealed that the EP has greatly expanded its range while the MCP has experienced more moderate range expansion. Results of this study provide the first documentation of overlap between the breeding ranges of EP and MCP sandhill cranes. Our results also suggest that staging areas in northwestern Minnesota are being used by both populations and there is overlap in migration corridors, as evidenced by a crane that used both the Mississippi and Central flyways.

Tuesday February 7, 2017 10:20am - 10:40am CST
Grand Ballroom D