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Lesser Prairie Chicken

Lesser Prairie Chicken

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The Lesser Prairie Chicken, Tympanuchus pallidicinctus, a species in the grouse
Grouse
Grouse are a group of birds from the order Galliformes. They are sometimes considered a family Tetraonidae, though the American Ornithologists' Union and many others include grouse as a subfamily Tetraoninae in the family Phasianidae...

 family, is slightly smaller and paler than its near relative the Greater Prairie Chicken
Greater Prairie Chicken
The Greater Prairie Chicken or Pinnated Grouse, Tympanuchus cupido, is a large bird in the grouse family. This North American species was once abundant, but has become extremely rare or extinct over much of its range due to habitat loss. There are current efforts to help this species gain the...

. It is found primarily in the sandhill
Sandhill
A sandhill is a type of ecological community or xeric wildfire-maintained ecosystem. It is not the same as a sand dune. It features very short fire return intervals, one to five years. Without fire, sandhills undergo ecological succession and become more oak dominated.Entisols are the typical...

s and prairie
Prairie
Prairies are considered part of the temperate grasslands, savannas, and shrublands biome by ecologists, based on similar temperate climates, moderate rainfall, and grasses, herbs, and shrubs, rather than trees, as the dominant vegetation type...

s of Western Oklahoma
Oklahoma
Oklahoma is a state located in the South Central region of the United States of America. With an estimated 3,751,351 residents as of the 2010 census and a land area of 68,667 square miles , Oklahoma is the 28th most populous and 20th-largest state...

, the Texas Panhandle
Texas Panhandle
The Texas Panhandle is a region of the U.S. state of Texas consisting of the northernmost 26 counties in the state. The panhandle is a rectangular area bordered by New Mexico to the west and Oklahoma to the north and east...

, and the Llano Estacado
Llano Estacado
Llano Estacado , commonly known as the Staked Plains, is a region in the Southwestern United States that encompasses parts of eastern New Mexico and northwestern Texas, including the South Plains and parts of the Texas Panhandle...

 of Texas
Texas
Texas is the second largest U.S. state by both area and population, and the largest state by area in the contiguous United States.The name, based on the Caddo word "Tejas" meaning "friends" or "allies", was applied by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves and to the region of their settlement in...

 and Eastern New Mexico
New Mexico
New Mexico is a state located in the southwest and western regions of the United States. New Mexico is also usually considered one of the Mountain States. With a population density of 16 per square mile, New Mexico is the sixth-most sparsely inhabited U.S...

, and also rarely in Southeastern Colorado
Colorado
Colorado is a U.S. state that encompasses much of the Rocky Mountains as well as the northeastern portion of the Colorado Plateau and the western edge of the Great Plains...

, and Western Kansas
Kansas
Kansas is a US state located in the Midwestern United States. It is named after the Kansas River which flows through it, which in turn was named after the Kansa Native American tribe, which inhabited the area. The tribe's name is often said to mean "people of the wind" or "people of the south...

.

Like its larger relative, it is known for its lekking behavior
Lek (animal behaviour)
A lek is a gathering of males, of certain animal species, for the purposes of competitive mating display. Leks assemble before and during the breeding season, on a daily basis. The same group of males meet at a traditional place and take up the same individual positions on an arena, each occupying...

.

Considered "vulnerable" by the IUCN due to its restricted and patchy range, it is vulnerable to habitat destruction. There is evidence suggesting that global warming
Global warming
Global warming refers to the rising average temperature of Earth's atmosphere and oceans and its projected continuation. In the last 100 years, Earth's average surface temperature increased by about with about two thirds of the increase occurring over just the last three decades...

 may have a particularly detrimental influence by greatly reducing the size of the sagebrush
Sagebrush
Sagebrush is a common name of a number of shrubby plant species in the genus Artemisia native to western North America;Or, the sagebrush steppe ecoregion, having one or more kinds of sagebrush, bunchgrasses and others;...

 ecosystem. Subfossil
Subfossil
Subfossil refers to remains whose fossilization process is not complete, either for lack of time or because the conditions in which they were buried were not optimal for fossilization....

 remains are known, e.g., from Rocky Arroyo in the Guadalupe Mountains
Guadalupe Mountains
The Guadalupe Mountains are a mountain range located in West Texas and southeastern New Mexico. The range includes the highest summit in Texas, Guadalupe Peak, , and the "signature peak" of West Texas, El Capitan, both located within Guadalupe Mountains National Park, as well as Carlsbad Caverns...

, outside the species' current range but where more habitat existed in the less humid conditions in the outgoing last ice age. They disappeared apparently no later than about 8000 BC, soon after the start of human settlement, which may also have contributed to the local extinction.

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