Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Wildland Resources

Committee Chair(s)

David C. Stoner


David C. Stoner


Michel T. Kohl


Dave K. Dahlgren


Jordan W. Smith


Mary M. Conner


S. Nicki Frey


In a small, isolated greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) population in the Sheeprock Mountain Sage-Grouse Management Area (SGMA) located in Utah's West Desert, peak male lek counts declined from 190 males in 2006 to 23 males in 2015. A collaborative effort across all federal, state, and local partners yielded 146 (40 male, 106 female) sage-grouse captured, marked with either a very-high frequency or global positioning systems (GPS) transmitter, and translocated into the Sheeprock sage-grouse management area between 2016 and 2019, complete with radiotelemetry monitoring during the spring and summers of 2016-2020 translocated individuals in addition to radiotelemetry monitoring of 39 (12 male, 27 female) resident Sheeprock sage-grouse. Coincident management efforts included extensive habitat restoration, predator control, and monitoring off-highway vehicle (OHV) recreation.

To evaluate the movements, habitat selection, demographics, and genetics of this population, I performed a behaviorally segmented, movement-based habitat selection analysis, an integrated population model (IPM) of the Sheeprock SGMA and the translocation source populations, and analyses quantifying allelic richness, allelic frequency, and genetic heterogeneity. Additionally, I evaluated the GPS transmitters' performance to monitor the grouse, which is essential for quantifying and accounting for fix error for GPS-based spatial models. The probability of sage-grouse beginning in the exploratory phase at the time of release was marginally lower for adult males and females than yearlings. The analysis also suggested that to reduce post-release dispersal, practitioners should prioritize release sites to maximize the restricted state selection in areas closer to mesic habitat, higher elevation, and lower tree cover. The IPM predicted declining populations following translocations due to low recruitment, dictated by low chick survival, and estimated population abundance of 22 individuals (95% CI: 2 – 63) by 2027 by 2027. However, we also detected an increase in allelic richness and the potential for the increased admixture of the source population genetics in the reinforced population.



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