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Summary of science, activities, programs, and policies that influence the rangewide conservation of greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophanianus)

Author(s): D.J. Manier, D.J.A. Wood, Z.H. Bowen, R.M. Donovan, M.J. Holloran, L.M. Juliusson, K.S. Mayne, S.J. Oyler-McCance, F.R. Quamen, D.J. Saher, A.J. Titolo
Year Published: 2013

Because of their broad range, variations in population traits and characteristics across this range, and the variability in habitat conditions and threats within this range, conservation of sage-grouse is a unique challenge compared to isolated or range-restricted species, primarily due to the scale of the effort. This complexity is increased because sage-grouse have habitat requirements that can be recognized at multiple scales with the broadest transcending traditional management boundaries. An area has suitable habitat if it (a) is large with contiguous acres of sagebrush; (b) contains a mosaic of sagebrush, grass, and forb cover, which provides suitable cover and forage opportunities (good condition) within proximity to allow seasonal movement and use; (c) contains healthy, productive, and sufficiently isolated (safe) local habitats that provide specific seasonal requirements, such as sagebrush, grasses, forbs and insects in spring-summer and sagebrush without snow-cover in winter; and (d) has sufficient specific microsite conditions that provide daily needs such as nest sites. Similarly, planning for conservation and management occurs at multiple scales. Current efforts to prioritize areas across the range for conservation have focused on identifying large expanses of sagebrush for protection (casting a broad net to protect sagebrush ecosystems) or specifying regional expanses based on the “core areas” concept based on breeding density of the birds (numbers of males on leks; Doherty and others, 2010c). The National Greater Sage-Grouse Land Use Planning Strategy focuses at these broader scales; therefore, to accomplish this assessment, local details, for example the amount of shrub canopy, which vary in space and time, are necessarily grouped and averaged within map units (grid-cells or shapes) precluding fine-scale evaluation. However, regional trends and patterns that develop during periods of years may be recognized and highlighted at scales useful for assessment, planning, and management processes. This document is designed to inform and advance large-area, regional conservation efforts by consolidating information regarding rangewide and regional information about sage-grouse populations and habitats and to act as a bridge between these large-area efforts and regional and local management efforts (that is, forest and range management plans) by providing spatial and information context.

Citation: Manier, D.J., Wood, D.J.A., Bowen, Z.H., Donovan, R.M., Holloran, M.J., Juliusson, L.M., Mayne, K.S., Oyler-McCance, S.J., Quamen, F.R., Saher, D.J., and Titolo, A.J., 2013, Summary of science, activities, programs, and policies that influence the rangewide conservation of Greater Sage-Grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus): U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2013–1098, 170 p., http://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2013/1098/.
Topic(s): Fire Ecology, Fire Effects, Ecological - Second Order, Wildlife, Fire & Wildlife, Birds, Sage-grouse, Management Approaches, Adaptive Management
Ecosystem(s): Sagebrush steppe
Document Type: Technical Report or White Paper
NRFSN number: 15420
Record updated: Jan 22, 2020