Alternative energy development is increasing, potentially leading to negative impacts on wildlife populations already stressed by other factors. One species of concern is the Lesser Prairie-Chicken (LPCH; Tympanuchus pallidicinctus) found on the southern Great Plains of North America. LPCH populations have been declining and are potentially further impacted by energy development. Resource mangers require a scientifically based methodology to balance energy development and species conservation, so we investigated the use of habitat suitability modeling with Maximum Entropy modeling to develop maps that could be used in the siting of energy development. We used LPCH lek locations in the state of Kansas along with several environmental and anthropogenic parameters to develop models that predict the probability of lek occurrence across the landscape.
Results/Conclusions The models all performed well as evidenced by the high area under the curve (AUC) scores (all > 0.9) calculated with a test dataset. The models with anthropogenic parameters performed slightly better than those without according to the AUC values, indicating that anthropogenic features may impact LPCH lek habitat suitability. Given the positive model results, this methodology may provide guidance in the siting of energy development in areas of marginal or unsuitable habitat for species of concern. This technique could help to standardize and quantify the impacts various developments have upon at-risk species.