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Individual Highlight

Predicting Changes in Population Extent and Fragmentation of Greater Sage-grouse

Photo of Sage grouse. U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service.Sage grouse. U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service.Snapshot : Habitat loss and fragmentation have dramatically reduced the area occupied and the population connectivity of greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) across its range. Continuing land conversion and climate change are having large impacts on the remaining sage grouse. This research has contributed greatly to the understanding of sage grouse ecology, population structure, and movement, and has provided spatially explicit, fine-scale, broad-extent, quantitative predictions of changes in sage grouse distribution and population connectivity.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Cushman, Samuel A.  
Research Location : Western U.S.
Research Station : Rocky Mountain Research Station (RMRS)
Year : 2016
Highlight ID : 983

Summary

Habitat loss and fragmentation have dramatically reduced the area occupied and the population connectivity of greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) across its range. Continuing land conversion and climate change are having large impacts on the remaining distribution and population connectivity of sage grouse, including range reductions and loss of genetic diversity. This project is combining vast sampling of species occurrence and genetic characteristics with sophisticated spatial modeling of gene flow, connectivit, and adaptive variation. The project has produced a number of important tools and applications to managers, including software to optimize landscape genetic relationships and model spatial structure of genetic diversity across complex landscapes. Forest Service scientists applied these tools to evaluate a large number of hypotheses regarding the factors that determine population connectivity for sage grouse. Their rigorous assessment of these alternative models has contributed greatly to the understanding of sage grouse ecology, population structure, and movement, and has provided spatially explicit, fine-scale, broad-extent, quantitative predictions of changes in sage grouse distribution and population connectivity. This has enabled the identification of:sage grouse populations that are expected to have the largest range reduction in the future;populations with limited ability to migrate in response to climate change due to barriers to dispersal; andareas where investment in habitat protection and enhancement will have highest priority and have the highest likelihood of success in maintaining connected populations of sage grouse. Society benefits from detailed and specific predictions of the effects of land conversion and climate change on sage grouse, and development of optimized adaptation strategies to mitigate these negative effects.

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

 
  • Conservation Northwest
  • Great Northern Landscape Conservation Cooperative
  • Nature Conservancy
  • University of Washington
  • Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife
  • Washington Habitat Connectivity Working Group