Date of Award:

5-2010

Document Type:

Dissertation

Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department:

Wildland Resources

Advisor/Chair:

Terry A. Messmer

Abstract

Declining greater sage-grouse populations (Centrocercus urophasianus; hereafter sage-grouse) have led to increased concern regarding the long-term stability of the species. Previous research has identified factors contributing to the observed population declines. Habitat degradation and loss have been implicated as major factors in population declines. Although much is known about sage-grouse biology, more information is needed about population responses to specific management actions. This research was conducted to document sage-grouse responses to site-specific management actions. Additionally, I evaluated sage-grouse temporal and seasonal habitat-use and the comparability of techniques used by range and wildlife managers to measure vegetation responses of habitat management. Specifically, I evaluated 1) whether chemical analysis (gas chromatography) of sage-grouse fecal pellets could identify sagebrush species in sage-grouse winter diets, 2) the comparability of the line-point intercept and Daubenmire canopy cover methods for estimating canopy cover, 3) the response of sage-grouse broods to prescribed burns in a high elevation sagebrush community in northeastern Utah, and 4) the vegetation and insect characteristics of sites used by sage-grouse broods during a 24-hour period. I was able to determine wintering sage-grouse diets using gas chromatography by analyzing fecal pellets. This research also confirmed that black sagebrush (Artemisia nova) was an important component of sage-grouse winter diets in western Box Elder County and Parker Mountain populations. The line-point intercept and Daubenmire methods for estimating canopy cover are not comparable. Sage-grouse broods selected small (~ 25 ha) patchy prescribed burns in high elevation mountain big sagebrush (A. tridentata vaseyana) communities in northeastern Utah. Sage-grouse brood-site use in northwestern Utah did not differ during the diurnal hours, but nocturnal roost sites were characterized by shorter statured shrubs and more bare ground when compared to midday sites.

Comments

This work made publicly available electronically on August 2, 2010.

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