Understanding Mate Preferences of Female Translocated Greater Prairie-Chickens in Illinois

Wendy M. Schelsky, Scott Simpson, Robert Gillespie

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Current and future translocations of Greater Prairie-Chickens are and will be essential conservation tools in the management of this State Endangered species in Illinois. Approximately 300 individuals of a 50:50 sex ratio were moved from Kansas to Illinois from 2014-2017. Little is known, however, about the reproductive value of males versus females during these translocations and whether altering the sex ratio of incoming birds can improve or accelerate conservation goals. If more females are introduced into your endangered population will they breed with or prefer males that are present on the site and therefore less genetically similar but are potentially more inbred, or would they preferentially select more familiar males from their original population that are presumably less inbred than males resident to Illinois? We tracked translocated hens from Kansas in 2014 and 2015 to find nests and genetically test their offspring to determine identity of sires. In general, we found no tendency for a female preference of Illinois resident vs. Kansas males. Of the offspring tested, 46 were sired by Illinois males and 44 were sired by Kansas males. We also examined several patterns of genetic relatedness and how it related to reproductive output. We found no evidence that inbred males or genetic incompatibility played a role in reproductive success. In future translocation efforts, if sufficient numbers of males still exist in Illinois, the number of females could be increased and the sex ratio could be significantly female biased to augment population size and encourage population growth.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationMidwest Fish and Wildlife Conference 2020
StatePublished - 2020


  • INHS


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