Friday's Findings - July 9 2021

Release Date:

Conservation of the Sagebrush Ecosystem Under the Sage-Grouse Umbrella

Date:  July 9, 2021 from 2-2:30 p.m. eastern time

Speaker: Cameron Aldridge, Research Ecologist, USGS Fort Collins Science Center

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Or call in (audio only): +1 202-640-1187,   United States, Washington DC

Phone Conference ID: 574 535 52#

Greater sage-grouse flying.

Greater sage-grouse flying. (Credit: Tatiana Gettelman, USGS. Public domain.)

Background:  Sagebrush habitats continue to be degraded and fragmented throughout North America, resulting in declines of sagebrush and sagebrush-obligate species.  Agricultural activities, energy development, and exurban development remove habitat and degrade sagebrush, primarily in eastern ecosystems, while fire and invasive plants have resulted in extensive fragmentation and loss of sagebrush in western ecosystems. The impacts of habitat alteration will expand into the future as human populations continue to grow and the demand for renewable and non-renewable energy increases. Ultimately, restoration and enhancement habitats will be required to maintain functioning ecosystems, though preventing remaining habitats from being degraded and fragments is a necessary first step.  The sage-grouse is the icon of sagebrush ecosystems, and many conservation efforts are targeted at benefiting this species, with hopes that other sagebrush obligate and associated species will also benefit, but sage-grouse may not be a umbrella to save all species. Conservation efforts will continue to be challenged by increasing future drought conditions predicted by climate models. Therefore, understanding how landscape changes will affect sagebrush ecosystems and the species that require them will be necessary if appropriate management actions are to be implemented. I will review the conservation issues associated with the sagebrush ecosystem, focusing on sage-grouse and other sagebrush associated species, highlighting current and ongoing research which is directly informing management actions for sagebrush ecosystems and the foundation of conservation planning efforts.