A new study has been released on the survival of the lesser prairie chicken.
Scientists at Texas Tech and the U.S. Geological Survey are looking at how predicted seasonal weather changes in the southern high plains could affect the species' reproductive conditions. The researchers found that by the year 2050, the lesser prairie chicken's nest survival may decrease below what's necessary to sustain the current population. The authors noted the findings don't suggest the bird will come extinct, but may continue to decline if no action is taken.
"The lesser prairie chicken is considered an indicator species for the prairies of Texas and New Mexico, and what that means is, it's an overall indicator of how healthy those systems are," Blake Grisham, co-author of the study, said. "Now, if the species are declining, that suggest other species or other ecosystem functions are likely to decline as well."
The lesser prairie chicken is currently being proposed as a threatened species under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's final listing decision has been pushed back to March 2014.