Date of Award:
Master of Science (MS)
Terry A. Messmer
Declining populations of greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus; hereafter sage-grouse) have increased stakeholder concerns regarding the management and stability of the species range-wide. Numerous conservation strategies have been identified to restoring sage-grouse population declines to include species translocations. Translocations have been used for many different wildlife species to help sustain genetic heterogeneity, reestablish, and augment declining populations. In a recent translocation study, researchers identified the protocols used to successfully translocate sage-grouse to restore declining populations in Strawberry Valley, Utah. This translocation occurred in a high elevation basin buffered by geomorphic barriers. I evaluated these protocols for use in translocating sage-grouse to augment a declining population that inhabited Anthro Mountain in northwest Utah. Anthro Mountain is a high elevation mountain dominated by sagebrush (Artemisia spp.) void of geomorphic barriers. I compared annual production, survival (i.e., vital rates), habitat use, and movements of translocated birds and their progeny to the resident population. Lastly, I described the integration of translocated birds with resident birds and the overall efficacy of the translocation effort. I radio-collared and monitored 60 translocated female sage-grouse from Parker Mountain, Utah over a 2-year period (2009 and 2010) and compared their vital rates to 19 radio-marked resident sage-grouse. Adult survival was similar for resident and translocated birds, but higher for both groups in 2010 than in 2009. However, overall survival of both resident and translocated birds was lower than range-wide survival estimates. Nest success was slightly higher for resident birds than translocated birds but positively correlated to grass height for both groups. Chick survival was also slightly higher for resident birds than for translocated birds, and higher overall in 2010 than in 2009. Chick survival was positively correlated to grass cover for both groups. Translocated birds used similar habitats and exhibited migration behaviors similar to resident birds. From a methodology perspective, the translocations protocols were successful because the translocated birds quickly acclimated to the release area, and their survival and reproductive success were similar to the resident birds. The effect of the translocation on augmenting the local population was inconclusive.
Gruber, Natasha W., "Population Dynamics and Movements of Translocated and Resident Greater Sage-Grouse on Anthro Mountain, Utah" (2012). All Graduate Theses and Dissertations. Paper 1417.
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