Date of Award

12-15-2017

Degree Type

Report

Degree Name

Master of Natural Resources (MNR)

Department

Natural Resources

First Advisor

Frank Howe

Second Advisor

Shandra Nicole Frey

Third Advisor

Shannon Belmont

Abstract

Movement and habitat selection by Greater Sage-grouse (Centrocercus uropasianus) is of great interest to wildlife managers tasked with applying conservation measures for this iconic western species. Current technology has created small and lightweight GPS (Global Positioning Systems) transmitters that can be attached to sage-grouse. Using GIS software and statistical programs such as Program R, land managers can analyze GPS location data to assess how sage-grouse are geospatially interacting with their habitats. Within the Panguitch Sage-Grouse Management Area (SGMA) thousands of acres of land have been restored or manipulated to enhance sage-grouse habitat; this usually involves removal of pinyon pine (Pinus spp.) and juniper (Juniperus spp.). A foundational aspect of this study is to assess what resources sage-grouse are selecting for and if it includes habitat treatments. For this study I used over 12,000 GPS locations from 13 individual sage-grouse (4 female, 9 male) in the Panguitch SGMA. I analyzed the point locations using a “used/available” 3rd order Resource Selection Function (RSF). The RSF design for this study is a variation of a logistic regression (generalized linear mixed effect model) designed to approximate the relative probability of use within the specified home range while accounting for random effects. I ran four separate RSFs based on seasonal use and sex (Winter Female, Winter Male, Brooding and Nesting Female, Brooding and Nesting Male). The RSF design provided coefficient estimates for a set of anthropologic, topographic, and vegetative landscape predictor variables. All four RSF models indicate that sage-grouse are strongly selecting for areas with low tree cover and low ruggedness values and selecting against areas classified as Pinyon and Juniper woodland. Results also indicate that female sage-grouse are selecting for areas near habitat treatments during winter as well as during brooding and nesting. Male sage-grouse exhibited a slight avoidance of habitat treatments with low positive coefficient estimates in both seasons. Using the results of the RSF models, I generated distinct heat maps that display probability of use geospatially within the study area. My RSF models can be used to better inform land managers when planning habitat treatments, updating seasonal habitat maps, identifying mitigation opportunities, and preparing state, federal, and local management plans.

Share

COinS