Ecosphere An ESA Open Access Journal
Ecological Society of America
Our study aimed to delineate seasonal habitats and assess differential fitness related to migration strategy and seasonal habitat use of greater sage‐grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus, hereafter “sage‐grouse”). In addition, we evaluated benefits gained for sage‐grouse through the implementation of the Wyoming Core Area Strategy relative to protection of habitat and differences in nest, brood, and annual female survival. We compared the proportion of seasonal habitats that were within or outside Core Areas as delineated with 75% and 95% kernel density contours (KDE). The proportion of summer and winter habitats (95% KDE) that overlapped Core Areas was 0.69 of summer and 0.50 of winter habitat within a Core Area. We found no differences in nest or brood survival among migration strategies or within and outside Core Areas. However, females that did not migrate out of their respective winter habitat had lower risk of death, which highlighted year‐round benefits of winter habitat. Females had lower risk of death during winter with the lowest risk occurring during winter in Core Areas. Higher temperature and lower snow water equivalent during the breeding season and fall were detrimental to female survival, whereas neither had an effect on winter survival. Although Core Areas encompassed a large proportion of winter habitat, our results indicate that Core Areas (as delineated) were not the most direct way to protect winter habitat for sage‐grouse. During winter, sage‐grouse gathered within habitat conducive to winter survival, indicating that disturbances within these winter habitats may have broad consequences for sage‐grouse populations.
Dinkins J. B., K. Lawson, K. T. Smith, J. L. Beck, C. P. Kirol, A. C. Pratt, M. R. Conover, and F. Blomquist. 2018. Quantifying overlap and fitness consequences of migration strategy with season habitat use and a conservation policy. Ecosphere 8(11):e01991. 10.1002/ecs2.1991.