Grouse Research

Grouse come in many forms and occupy very different habitats. From prairie-chickens of the American Great Plains to rocky tundra-loving ptarmigans, these species are a major focus of research at the Sutton Avian Research Center.

Our long history of working with grouse stems from research we first conducted on the Greater Prairie-Chicken (Tympanuchus cupido pinnatus) in Osage Co., Oklahoma and thereafter diversified to include a sister species, the Lesser Prairie-Chicken (T. pallidicinctus), in Oklahoma’s northwest and panhandle as well as eastern New Mexico.

Later we began studies of alpine population of White-tailed Ptarmigan (Lagopus leucura) which, perhaps surprisingly, exist atop mountains in northern New Mexico.

In June of 2015 the Society of Tympanuchus Cupido Pinnatus (STCP), another conservation organization dedicated to the study of prairie grouse, dissolved as a separate organization and became part of the Sutton Center. With the resulting combined bounty of expertise, field data, and historical archives, the new Sutton Center is continuing to grow as a leading authority on prairie grouse.

Once joining us from the STCP, Dr. John Toepfer was one of the worlds leading prairie grouse biologists. As part of the Sutton Center, Toepfer worked to continue a long-term study on Greater Prairie-Chickens in the Nebraska Sandhills region. This study runs counter to many conservation studies, in that we have intensively studied a declining species where its populations were actually doing well. The intention was to discover characteristics of natural populations without the influence of disruptive factors that affect imperiled populations.

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