The Wyoming Landscape Conservation Initiative (WLCI)

Science Center Objects

The Wyoming Landscape Conservation Initiative (WLCI) addresses effects of land-use and climate changes on Southwest Wyoming’s natural resources. In partnership with twelve Federal, State, and local natural resource agencies, and non-governmental organizations– FORT and ten other USGS centers are conducting dozens of integrated science projects to assess the status of Southwest Wyoming’s natural resources, the efficacy of habitat management projects, and effects of energy development on wildlife and socioeconomics. We’re also developing protocols for region-level monitoring long-term vegetation trends and modeling future resource conditions.

The Red Desert near the Oregon Trail in the Wind River Range, Wyoming.

The Red Desert near the Oregon Trail in the Wind River Range, Wyoming. This photo and others on the carousel by Sam Cox,

Wyoming Landscape Conservation Initiative Website - Principal Investigator - Pat Anderson

Federal, State, industry, and nongovernmental organizations fund habitat improvement treatments across southwestern Wyoming. A primary goal of the Wyoming Landscape Conservation Initiative (WLCI) is to monitor and assess the effectiveness of these treatments at individual sites and evaluate their effectiveness in meeting landscape-level conservation goals, such as connecting fragmented habitats. The Effectiveness Monitoring task is intended to help guide the design and development of future habitat treatments and to improve the ability of these treatments to meet WLCI landscape conservation objectives.




Mule Deer in a Creek

Mule deer cross a stream in Wyoming. USGS photo.

Wyoming Landscape Conservation Initiative: Baseline Synthesis - Principal Investigators - Pat Anderson and Tim Assal

Understanding potential effects of energy development and other land-use changes, as well as the effects of climate change, on southwestern Wyoming's ecosystems will first require a synthesis (comprehensive assessment) of what is currently known and may be acquired via short-term, rapid assessments, retrospective analyses, and modeling future scenarios. By synthesizing this information, Wyoming Landscape Conservation Initiative (WLCI) partners can amass a body of baseline information against which to compare future conditions and ascertain ecosystem trends associated with land-use and other changes. 



A pygmy rabbit sits in the dirt near its burrow.

A pygmy rabbit sits in the dirt near its burrow. Photo by Stephen Germaine, USGS.


Wyoming Landscape Conservation Initiative: Mechanistic Studies of Wildlife

Rapid energy development and other human-caused disturbances in southwestern Wyoming are challenging the abilities of natural resource managers to ensure persistence of the region’s vast diversity of wildlife. Prior studies of greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) and pygmy rabbits (Brachylagus idahoensis) indicate populations in Wyoming are declining, likely due to loss and fragmentation of sagebrush habitats, and both species were considered for listing through the Endangered Species Act within the past two years. To help address population declines, we are developing spatial models to assess how sage-grouse and pygmy rabbits respond to habitat changes associated with energy development and climate change across large landscapes.




The beautiful Wyoming sky over the Oregon Buttes.

The beautiful Wyoming sky over the Oregon Buttes. Photo by Sam Cox.

Wyoming Landscape Conservation Initiative: Inventory and Long-Term Monitoring - Principal Investigator - Dan Manier

Across Southwest Wyoming, there is increasing concern that energy development and climate change will significantly alter the region’s habitats, thus putting the region’s world-class wildlife populations at risk of decline. To provide accurate condition estimates across a large region, and to subsequently monitor changes in conditions, a representative sample of resources is required. This landscape, like most, is highly variable due to differences in natural and anthropogenic environmental factors, such as topography, climate, and land-use. To this end, we are investigating application of landscape-scale framework for assessing status and trends in resource conditions; characterizing potential “indicators” that have properties conducive to monitoring and also representative of habitat conditions and ecosystem function; and developing fine-scale mapping and change–detecting, remote sensing techniques for vegetation.