Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Wildlife and Fisheries Science

Major Professor

Ralph W. Dimmick

Committee Members

Michael R. Pelton, R. L. Murphree


The objective of this study was to determine the principal fall and winter dietary patterns of ruffed grouse in eastern Tennessee and western North Carolina. The study was conducted in the Blue Ridge Region of eastern Tennessee and western North Carolina and the Cumberland Plateau and Great Valley Regions of eastern Tennessee. All three regions are a part of the Southern Appalachians. The oak-hickory and oak-pine forest types are dominant in the area studied. A total of 294 grouse crops was collected during the fall and winter from October 1972 through February 1974. Seventeen additional crops were collected from December 1969 through February 1970. Greenbriar was the most important food by volume in the Blue Ridge (20.2 percent) and Valley Regions (33.2 percent). In the Plateau Region, Christmas fern was the most important food (15.5 per cent), and greenbriar was second (12.2 percent). Honeysuckle ranked second only to greenbriar in the Valley (18.0 percent). Mountain laurel leaves and buds ranked second in the Blue Ridge Region (19.6 percent), and fourth in the Plateau Region (10.4 percent). Dogwood was third (11.2 percent) in the Plateau. The principal foods by volume during the fall for each region were: Blue Ridge--Greenbriar (28.3 percent), grape (8.1 percent), mountain laurel (6.6 percent), dogwood (6.5 percent), black birch (5.9 percent) and partridge berry (5.0 percent). Plateau--dogwood (82.5 percent) and blueberry (9.6 percent) from only two crops collected; Valley--Greenbriar (38.5 percent), Christmas fern (10.0 percent), avens (6.9 percent), honeysuckle (6.3 percent) and cinquefoil (5.2 percent). The principal foods by volume during the winter for each region were: Blue Ridge--Mountain laurel (28.2 percent), greenbriar (14.9 percent), Christmas fern (12.5 percent) and cinquefoil (5.0 percent). Plateau--Alumroot (14.9 percent), Christmas fern (14.6 percent), greenbriar (11.6 percent), mountain laurel (10.1 percent) and blueberry (4.0 percent). Valley--Greenbriar (30.2 percent), honeysuckle (25.6 per-cent), Christmas fern (12.7 percent), hawkweed (5.7 percent) and unidenti-fied ferns (5.2 percent). During periods of snow, grouse from the Blue Ridge and Plateau fed primarily on black birch and mountain laurel. The diet of grouse from the Valley was the same during periods of snow as at other times. Snows were lighter in the Valley as compared to the Blue Ridge and Plateau. Open fields and pastures adjacent to woodlands in all regions appeared to be preferred feeding sites throughout the fall and winter.

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