Date of Award:

2013

Document Type:

Thesis

Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)

Department:

Wildland Resources

Advisor/Chair:

Terry A. Messmer

Abstract

Translocations have been used as a management strategy to successfully augment declining native wildlife populations. Greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus; sage-grouse) population declines on Anthro Mountain, Utah prompted managers to translocate sage-grouse and test protocols from a successful translocation project in Strawberry Valley, Utah. Sage-grouse from Parker Mountain, Utah were used as the source population for Anthro Mountain and Strawberry Valley translocations. Sixty hens were translocated to Anthro Mountain in 2009 and 2010; I monitored vital rates of the 60 translocated hens and 32 resident hens from 2009-2012. My objective was to determine the overall success of the translocation 4 years after the initial release and compare vital rates to the source population and Strawberry Valley.
In Chapter 2, I determined that survival varied by study area and hen age but was not affected by residency status. Annual survival of Anthro Mountain hens was lower than Parker Mountain and Strawberry Valley hens. Adult hen survival in all three populations was higher than yearling survival.
In Chapter 3, I determined that the translocation contributed to population growth. Adult resident and previously translocated hens had the highest reproductive success, followed by resident yearlings, newly translocated adults, and newly translocated yearlings. Lek counts increased from 2009-2013 and a new lek was discovered in 2011. Survival was not affected by residency status or age, but varied greatly by year and season. Mean monthly survival was lowest in the fall; this differs from range-wide trends.
In Chapter 4, I determined that translocated hens adapted to the release area. They exhibited similar seasonal movements and used similar habitats as residents. The home range size of resident and translocated hens was comparable; however, previously translocated hens had smaller home ranges than newly released hens.
Despite landscape level differences between the source and release areas, translocated hens assimilated to the population and contributed to population growth. Although the translocation was successful, the low vital rate estimates are cause for concern. The low estimates suggest that factors such as predation, habitat quality and quantity, and anthropogenic influences may be problematic for this isolated population.

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