You are here

Forest Service science bolsters sagebrush and sage-grouse conservation

Date: August 19, 2016

Developing science and applications to support conservation and restoration of sagebrush ecosystems and sage-grouse populations


Reseracher holds Greater Sage-Grouse while radio-tagging it
Capturing and radio-tagging a Greater Sage-Grouse in Wyoming.

Sagebrush ecosystems are among the largest and most threatened ecosystems in North America. Greater sage-grouse has served as the bellwether for species conservation in these ecosystems and has been considered for listing under the Endangered Species Act several times. The 2016 Conservation and restoration of sagebrush ecosystems and sage-grouse: An assessment of USDA Forest Service Science assessment will help meet continuing widespread concerns and calls for science-based conservation to mitigate threats to sagebrush ecosystems, conserve populations of sage-grouse and other sagebrush-obligate species, and restore sagebrush ecosystems throughout the western United States. 

Concerns over sage-grouse and associated habitats have set in motion sweeping federal and state land management plan changes and proactive science-based conservation actions to address threats. For nearly a century, the Forest Service (FS) has studied sagebrush ecosystems and for decades has focused on sage-grouse biology and habitat requirements. Forest Service scientists and managers prepared an assessment and plan that summarized its strengths, capabilities, partners, research, and potential future high-priority research areas for conservation and restoration of sagebrush and sage-grouse.

This work will help meet continuing widespread concerns and calls for science-based conservation to mitigate threats to sagebrush ecosystems, conserve populations of sage-grouse and other sagebrush-obligate species, and restore sagebrush ecosystems throughout the western United States.  Additionally, FS scientists are contributing to the Science Plan and other actions of the sagebrush-focused report, An Integrated Rangeland Fire Management Strategy: Final Report to the Secretary of the Interior, May 2015. Products from this interagency effort are due out in late 2016 and beyond.

Key Findings

This assessment identifies the following four areas of strength, leadership, and knowledge development:

  1. Evaluating links among sage-grouse population ecology, monitoring, and habitat,

  2. Understanding disturbances and stressors in sagebrush ecosystems,

  3. Analyzing and designing landscapes to improve habitat connectivity, and

  4. Developing methods, models, and plant materials to restore sagebrush habitats.

Featured Publications

Finch, Deborah M. ; Boyce, Douglas A. ; Chambers, Jeanne C. ; Colt, Chris J. ; Dumroese, Kasten ; Kitchen, Stanley G. ; McCarthy, Clinton ; Meyer, Susan E. ; Richardson, Bryce A. ; Rowland, Mary M. ; ; Schwartz, Michael K. ; Tomosy, Monica S. ; Wisdom, Michael J. , 2016
Finch, Deborah M. ; Boyce, Douglas ; Chambers, Jeanne C. ; Colt, Chris ; McCarthy, Clint ; Kitchen, Stanley G. ; Richardson, Bryce A. ; Rowland, Mary ; ; Schwartz, Michael K. ; Tomosy, Monica ; Wisdom, Michael , 2015


Principal Investigators: 
Forest Service Partners: 
Jeanne C. Chambers, R.Kasten Dumroese, Stanley G. Kitchen, Susan E. Meyer, Bryce A. Richardson, Mark A. Rumble, Michael K. Schwartz-Rocky Mountain Research Station

Douglas A. Boyce, Jr, National Ecologist,
Chris J. Colt, Region 4 Wildlife Biologist
Clinton McCarthy, Region 4 Wildlife Biologist
Mary M. Rowland, Pacific Northwest Research Station
Monica S. Tomosy, WO Research and Development
Michael J. Wisdom, Pacific Northwest Research Station