Date of Award:

12-2010

Document Type:

Dissertation

Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department:

Wildland Resources

Advisor/Chair:

Terry A. Messmer

Abstract

My research provided new information concerning the management, ecology, and conservation of greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus). I report the results of an experiment using strategic intensive sheep grazing to enhance the quality of greater sage-grouse brood-rearing habitat. Although forb cover, an important component of brood-rearing habitat, responded positively to the grazing treatment, the response of other habitat variables was suppressed because the plots were not protected from domestic and wild herbivores during the years following the treatments. Measurements taken in grazing exclosures confirmed that herbivory by both large and small animals had significant impacts on vegetation. However, despite the suppressed habitat response, sage-grouse preferred the treated plots over the controls.

In another chapter, I modeled survival rates of sage-grouse chicks to 42-days of age. Average chick survival across my study was high (39%). Survival varied across years and was affected by demographic, behavioral, and habitat factors. The top habitat model indicated that chick survival was positively related to grass cover and was higher in areas dominated by black sagebrush (Artemisia nova) than in big sagebrush (A. tridentata). The top model with demographic/behavioral factors indicated that survival was affected by interactions between hen age and brood mixing as well as between hatch date and brood mixing.

In my last chapter I report on a survey of Utah sage-grouse hunter motivations and satisfaction. In 2008 and 2009 I surveyed over 600 sage-grouse hunters in Utah to determine why they chose to apply for sage-grouse hunting permits and what factors contributed to a satisfactory hunting experience. Originally, I had hypothesized that the impending Endangered Species Act listing petition for greater sage-grouse motivated hunters to pursue the species before they lost the opportunity. This hypothesis was not supported by the data. The majority of hunters indicated that they chose to hunt sage-grouse because it was a tradition or because it provided an opportunity to spend time outdoors with family. Additionally, Utah sage-grouse hunter satisfaction was influenced by whether or not the hunter was successful in harvesting at least one bird.

Comments

This work made publicly available electronically on January 19, 2011.

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