Location

USU Eccles Conference Center

Event Website

http://www.restoringthewest.org/

Streaming Media

Abstract

Greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) populations have been declining range-wide since the 1930s. The Bald Hills population in Utah is an isolated population at the southern edge of the species’ range. This peripheral population may provide intra-species diversity and therefore be of increased conservation importance. Due to lack of research, basic information about this population’s seasonal movements, distribution, and habitat preferences are unknown. Our objective is to fill this knowledge gap. This is of particular relevance because of the high potential for wind, solar, and geothermal energy development in the area. We are developing a species distribution model to predict and map habitat use and population distribution using MaxEnt. We are using readily available habitat and anthropogenic covariates as predictors of sage-grouse presence. We tracked 66 birds (17 females & 49 males) via VHF telemetry in 2011 and 2012. Preliminary results indicate that this population is primarily 1-stage migratory. These birds occupy marginal habitat range-wide leading to unique behavioral adaptations such as roosting under juniper trees and extensive use of agricultural fields. These habitat use patterns are contrary to expectations. For example, juniper encroachment and agriculture development have been indicated as major threats to Greater sage-grouse. The climatic differences between southern Utah and the northern portions of the Greater sage-grouse range could explain these local adaptations. Assumptions based on studies of other populations are therefore not always applicable to this fringe population. Understanding this population’s habitat use patterns is vital for the persistence of this population if renewable energy resources are developed in the area. Equipped with our species distribution model, managers will be able to make more informed management decisions in terms of energy development and mitigation efforts in southern Utah.

A. Cheyenne Burnett, Utah State University Department of Wildland Resources, 5230 Old Main Hill, Logan, UT, 84322, cheyburnett@gmail.com

Cheyenne Burnett is a MS student in the department of Wildland Resources at Utah State University. She received her BS degree in Zoology from the University of California at Santa Barbara in 2007. She studied field biology abroad at the University of Western Australia. Before studying wildlife biology, she worked as a horse trainer and veterinarian technician. After obtaining her BS degree, she became a wildlife field technician for a variety of field research projects ranging from the Mexican border in Arizona to the Canadian Rocky Mountains in Alberta, Canada and many places in between. After working mainly with carnivores and ungulates, she has expanded her research scope by studying a fringe population of Greater sage-grouse in Southern Utah. Her current interests include behavioral ecology, inter-species interactions, threatened and endangered species conservation and management and wildlife education.

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Oct 31st, 1:10 PM Oct 31st, 1:20 PM

Unique Habitat Use in a Fringe Greater Sage-Grouse Population

USU Eccles Conference Center

Greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) populations have been declining range-wide since the 1930s. The Bald Hills population in Utah is an isolated population at the southern edge of the species’ range. This peripheral population may provide intra-species diversity and therefore be of increased conservation importance. Due to lack of research, basic information about this population’s seasonal movements, distribution, and habitat preferences are unknown. Our objective is to fill this knowledge gap. This is of particular relevance because of the high potential for wind, solar, and geothermal energy development in the area. We are developing a species distribution model to predict and map habitat use and population distribution using MaxEnt. We are using readily available habitat and anthropogenic covariates as predictors of sage-grouse presence. We tracked 66 birds (17 females & 49 males) via VHF telemetry in 2011 and 2012. Preliminary results indicate that this population is primarily 1-stage migratory. These birds occupy marginal habitat range-wide leading to unique behavioral adaptations such as roosting under juniper trees and extensive use of agricultural fields. These habitat use patterns are contrary to expectations. For example, juniper encroachment and agriculture development have been indicated as major threats to Greater sage-grouse. The climatic differences between southern Utah and the northern portions of the Greater sage-grouse range could explain these local adaptations. Assumptions based on studies of other populations are therefore not always applicable to this fringe population. Understanding this population’s habitat use patterns is vital for the persistence of this population if renewable energy resources are developed in the area. Equipped with our species distribution model, managers will be able to make more informed management decisions in terms of energy development and mitigation efforts in southern Utah.

A. Cheyenne Burnett, Utah State University Department of Wildland Resources, 5230 Old Main Hill, Logan, UT, 84322, cheyburnett@gmail.com

Cheyenne Burnett is a MS student in the department of Wildland Resources at Utah State University. She received her BS degree in Zoology from the University of California at Santa Barbara in 2007. She studied field biology abroad at the University of Western Australia. Before studying wildlife biology, she worked as a horse trainer and veterinarian technician. After obtaining her BS degree, she became a wildlife field technician for a variety of field research projects ranging from the Mexican border in Arizona to the Canadian Rocky Mountains in Alberta, Canada and many places in between. After working mainly with carnivores and ungulates, she has expanded her research scope by studying a fringe population of Greater sage-grouse in Southern Utah. Her current interests include behavioral ecology, inter-species interactions, threatened and endangered species conservation and management and wildlife education.

http://digitalcommons.usu.edu/rtw/2012/october31/7