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Variations in Black Grouse Tetrao tetrix winter survival in a year with prolonged snow cover

Warren, Philip; White, Patrick J C; Baines, David; Atterton, Frances; Brown, Melanie J


Philip Warren

David Baines

Frances Atterton

Melanie J Brown


Capsule Low Black Grouse survival rate in northern England during a severe winter with prolonged snow was attributed to limited availability and proximity of woodland.

Aims To compare the impact of the severe winter weather on Black Grouse in an open treeless landscape in northern England with more wooded landscapes in Scotland.

Methods We assessed the impact of severe winter conditions in relation to previous milder winters at a sample of leks counted annually in northern England and the Scottish Highlands between 2001 and 2012. In addition, following the severe winter in 2009/10 Black Grouse were surveyed at all leks in 2010 where they were surveyed the previous year. We assessed woodland habitat extent within 1 km of leks and related this to indices of Black Grouse over-winter survival.

Results Black Grouse in northern England were severely affected by the severe winter of 2009/10, declining by 38% in comparison to a 23% increase in the Scottish Highlands. Leks in northern England were at higher altitudes and had less tree cover than those in Scotland.

Conclusion The lack of woodland cover around leks in northern England implies that availability of above snow forage, shelter and cover from predators was too low for Black Grouse to survive during prolonged deep snow. Measures are required to provide emergency food sources in periods of prolonged snow, such as the provision of supplementary food at leks, the cultivation of seed-rich arable crops, and the establishment of pockets of woodland.


Warren, P., White, P. J. C., Baines, D., Atterton, F., & Brown, M. J. (2013). Variations in Black Grouse Tetrao tetrix winter survival in a year with prolonged snow cover. Bird Study, 60(2), 257-263.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Feb 12, 2013
Online Publication Date Mar 21, 2013
Publication Date 2013-05
Deposit Date Aug 3, 2016
Journal Bird Study
Print ISSN 0006-3657
Electronic ISSN 1944-6705
Publisher British Trust for Ornithology
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 60
Issue 2
Pages 257-263
Keywords Ecology, evolution, behavior and systematics; Black Grouse,
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