We quantified forest stand attributes at ruffed grouse Bonasa umbellus drumming display sites to develop tree stocking guides as a tool for guiding ruffed grouse management. We estimated tree density and basal area surrounding grouse drumming sites and compared these with unused sites. We used model selection to assess predictions about whether tree density and basal area surrounding drumming sites varied by site classification (primary drumming site, alternate site, unused site) or forest type. We plotted the predicted values from the best model on tree stocking guides, which are tools commonly used by forest managers. Tree density and basal area varied by site classification and by forest type. Our results show that stem density was higher and basal area lower at both primary and alternate drumming sites compared to unused sites in all forest types. We also found that grouse sites in aspen stands had a greater stem density and lower basal area than grouse sites in pine and spruce/fir stands. Incorporating these results into a tree stocking guide suggested that management for grouse in aspen stands should attempt to maintain stands with average stem density and basal area for this species. In contrast, foresters who are managing for conifers and also wish to maintain some grouse habitat should favour wider spacing of trees in stands. Wider spacing will encourage the development of dense understory vegetation favoured by grouse as well as enhance the growth of quality saw-logs. Our study describes a method for incorporating habitat data on ruffed grouse and other wildlife into tree stocking charts, which are commonly used to facilitate management of forest stands.
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