Bryan S. Stevens, Courtney J. Conway, Jeffrey M. Knetter, Shane B. Roberts, Patrick Donnelly
Year Published:

Cataloging Information

Fire Ecology
Fire Effects
Game birds

NRFSN number: 25305
FRAMES RCS number: 67357
Record updated: February 6, 2023

Columbian sharp-tailed grouse (Tympanuchus phasianellus columbianus) are endemic to grassland and shrub-steppe ecosystems of western North America, yet their distribution has contracted to <10% of their historical range. Primary threats to Columbian sharp-tailed grouse include loss of native habitat and conversion to agriculture, reductions in habitat once provided by the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), wildfire, and drought conditions, yet population-level consequences of these threats and their spatio-temporal scales of effect are poorly understood. We evaluated multi-scale effects of land cover, weather, and fire histories on patterns of abundance and productivity for Columbian sharp-tailed grouse populations during 1995–2020 in Idaho, USA, using mixed-effects generalized regression and remotely sensed data. We demonstrated negative effects of fire, tree encroachment, and bare ground, positive effects of spring and summer precipitation and cover of shrubs and perennial forbs and grasses, and positive effects of CRP on grouse abundance that changed in magnitude with cover of perennials and shrubs near leks (i.e., strongest effects when average cover of shrubs and perennial forbs and grasses were less abundant). We also demonstrated per capita recruitment of Columbian sharp-tailed grouse is positively associated with late-summer greenness. Our results show that several suspected threats have measurable, population-level impacts to Columbian sharp-tailed grouse within Idaho. Moreover, our results suggest ongoing changes occurring within the core range of Columbian sharp-tailed grouse, including loss of CRP cover to tilled agriculture and changes to wildfire and precipitation dynamics are likely to have negative effects on populations.


Stevens, Bryan S.; Conway, Courtney J.; Knetter, Jeffrey M.; Roberts, Shane B.; Donnelly, Patrick. 2023. Multi-scale effects of land cover, weather, and fire on Columbian sharp-tailed grouse. Journal of Wildlife Management 87(2):e22349.

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