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Greater sage-grouse genetic warning system, western United States (ver 1.1, January 2023)

March 31, 2023

Genetic variation is a well-known indicator of population fitness yet is not typically included in monitoring programs for sensitive species. Additionally, most programs monitor populations at one scale, which can lead to potential mismatches with ecological processes critical to species’ conservation. Recently developed methods generating hierarchically nested population units (i.e., clusters of varying scales) for greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) have identified population trend declines across spatiotemporal scales to help managers target areas for conservation. The same clusters used as a proxy for spatial scale can alert managers to local units (i.e., fine-scale) with low genetic diversity relative to regional units (i.e., coarse-scale), further facilitating identification of management targets. We developed a genetic warning system utilizing previously developed hierarchical population units to identify management-relevant areas with low genetic diversity within the greater sage-grouse range. Within this warning system we characterized conservation concern thresholds based on values of genetic diversity for hierarchically nested populations. We developed a spatial data set to display genetic diversity values and conservation concern information from a Genetic Warning System (GWS) for population monitoring of greater sage-grouse, as described in Zimmerman et al. (2022). Here we added the genetic diversity estimates (allelic richness and expected heterozygosity) and GWS information as attributes to the relevant fine-scale (level 2) and coarse-scale (level 13) previously developed hierarchically nested population clusters (O’Donnell et al. 2019, O’Donnell et al. 2022). The GWS incorporates population trend decline watches and warnings from the Targeted Annual Warning System (TAWS) for greater sage-grouse as reported in Coates et al. (2021) to further refine degree of conservation concern.

Publication Year 2023
Title Greater sage-grouse genetic warning system, western United States (ver 1.1, January 2023)
DOI 10.5066/P9FATNI9
Authors Shawna J Zimmerman, Michael O'Donnell, Cameron Aldridge, David R Edmunds, Peter S Coates, Brian G Prochazka, Jennifer Fike, Todd B Cross, Bradley C Fedy, Sara J Oyler-McCance
Product Type Data Release
Record Source USGS Digital Object Identifier Catalog
USGS Organization Fort Collins Science Center