Event Title

Gas Energy Development and Pygmy Rabbit (Brachylagus idahoensis) Site Occupancy in Wyoming

Location

USU Eccles Conference Center

Event Website

http://www.restoringthewest.org/

Abstract

More than 2,200 mi2 of land in southwestern Wyoming is currently covered by operational gas fields, and further development is projected for at least 25 years. Gas field development fragments landscapes, primarily through conversion of native vegetation to roads, well pads, and pipeline corridors. Pygmy rabbits are a Wyoming Species of Greatest Conservation Need, but little information exists on the relationship between gas field development and pygmy rabbit distributions. In 2011, we began a three year examination into the relationship between gas field development density and pygmy rabbit site occupancy patterns on four major Wyoming gas fields (Creston/Atlantic Rim, Jonah, Moxa Arch, Pinedale Anticline Project Area). In Arc/Info, we overlaid digital gas well, well pad, road data, and NAIP imagery on the Wyoming Natural Diversity Database’s (WYNDD) pygmy rabbit habitat map. We constrained our study to areas identified in the WYNDD map as optimal pygmy rabbit habitat, then distributed ≥26 survey plots on each gas field in a random-stratified manner such that plots were well distributed across the gas well pad density gradient on each gas field. We surveyed each plot for pygmy rabbit occupancy twice in each summer (2011-12), and are modeling occupancy status as a function of gas well, well pad, and road density. Preliminary analysis of year-one data suggests a negative relationship between pygmy rabbit site occupancy and gas well pad density, and pygmy rabbit site occupancy and gas field road density. Results using two years of data will be presented.

Steve Germaine, USGS Fort Collins Science Center, 2150 Centre Ave, Bldg. C, Fort Collins, CO, 80526, germaines@usgs.gov

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Oct 30th, 11:00 AM Oct 30th, 12:00 PM

Gas Energy Development and Pygmy Rabbit (Brachylagus idahoensis) Site Occupancy in Wyoming

USU Eccles Conference Center

More than 2,200 mi2 of land in southwestern Wyoming is currently covered by operational gas fields, and further development is projected for at least 25 years. Gas field development fragments landscapes, primarily through conversion of native vegetation to roads, well pads, and pipeline corridors. Pygmy rabbits are a Wyoming Species of Greatest Conservation Need, but little information exists on the relationship between gas field development and pygmy rabbit distributions. In 2011, we began a three year examination into the relationship between gas field development density and pygmy rabbit site occupancy patterns on four major Wyoming gas fields (Creston/Atlantic Rim, Jonah, Moxa Arch, Pinedale Anticline Project Area). In Arc/Info, we overlaid digital gas well, well pad, road data, and NAIP imagery on the Wyoming Natural Diversity Database’s (WYNDD) pygmy rabbit habitat map. We constrained our study to areas identified in the WYNDD map as optimal pygmy rabbit habitat, then distributed ≥26 survey plots on each gas field in a random-stratified manner such that plots were well distributed across the gas well pad density gradient on each gas field. We surveyed each plot for pygmy rabbit occupancy twice in each summer (2011-12), and are modeling occupancy status as a function of gas well, well pad, and road density. Preliminary analysis of year-one data suggests a negative relationship between pygmy rabbit site occupancy and gas well pad density, and pygmy rabbit site occupancy and gas field road density. Results using two years of data will be presented.

Steve Germaine, USGS Fort Collins Science Center, 2150 Centre Ave, Bldg. C, Fort Collins, CO, 80526, germaines@usgs.gov

http://digitalcommons.usu.edu/rtw/2012/posters/4