Science Center Objects

The sagebrush ecosystem extends across 11 Western States and two Canadian Provinces and over 60 percent of that landscape is on public lands, half of which are managed by the Interior. This area is dominated by sagebrush, which is priority habitat for over 350 wildlife species, most notably the greater sage grouse. Alterations in the sagebrush ecosystem including changing fire regimes, spread of invasive grasses, climate change, and energy development have led to new challenges to these species and the landowners and public that lives and recreates in this area. Land and species managers, landowners, and other stakeholders need scientific information to improve their ability to understand and address these challenges and to implement landscape-scale management decisions, regardless of surface management or ownership. Secretarial Order 3336, which emphasizes the need for enhanced strategies to prevent and manage rangeland fire and restore sagebrush habitat, is bringing renewed focus to the threat of fire in the sagebrush ecosystem.

To address the science needs of this landscape, USGS research efforts focus on understanding how wildfire affects greater sage grouse and the sage steppe landscape, determining best management practices for sagebrush restoration, evaluating the effectiveness of restoration techniques, and development of predictive models to understand the influence of fire, cheatgrass, and other landscape factors on greater sage grouse populations.


Greater Sage-grouse on the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming

Greater Sage-grouse on the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming. (Credit: Jennifer Strickland, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Public domain.)


USGS science has provided a foundation for major land and resource management decisions including those that precluded the need to list the greater sage-grouse under the Endangered Species Act in 2015. USGS is continuing to build that foundation to inform science-based decisions to help support local economies and the continued conservation, management, and restoration of the sagebrush ecosystem.

Visit the USGS Sage-grouse and Sagebrush Ecosystem website for detailed information about USGS studies, scientists, news, and publications regarding the sagebrush ecosystem.




Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center (FRESC)


Fort Collins Science Center (FORT)


Southwest Biological Science Center (SBSC)


Western Ecological Research Center (WERC)

Sagebrush steppe, Wyoming

Sagebrush steppe, Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge in southwest Wyoming. 
​​​​​​​(Credit: Tom Koerner, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Public domain.)


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