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January 26, 2024

The theme of this year's meeting is "Change on the Range."  It will take place in Sparks Nevada, from January 28 — February 1, 2024. 


January 29

four donkeys stare into the camera. Desert in the background.
Burros of the Lake Pleasant Herd Management Area, Arizona. 
Domestication history influences potential horse competition with wildlife

Presenter: Kate Schoenecker

Overview: This presentation will discuss the results of population monitoring for two feral horse populations and two feral donkey populations in Utah and Arizona, USA from 2016-2020, including demographic information on age of first reproduction, foaling rate, population growth rate, and survival. Comparisons of feral horse and donkey demography to that of native wildlife can inform management of these nonnative species. 



Resource selection and occurrence overlap between feral horses, greater sage-grouse, and pronghorn in cold-arid-steppe

Presenter: Jake Hennig

Overview: From 2017–2021, we evaluated habitat selection and space use of feral horses, pronghorn, and greater sage-grouse with overlapping habitat in southern Wyoming. Our results indicate strong year‐round overlap in space use between horses and pronghorn, whereas overlap between horses and sage‐grouse is greatest during the summer. Consequently, managers should recognize the potential for horses to influence habitat quality of pronghorn and sage‐grouse in the region. Read the study. 


Five horses stare straight ahead. Hill in the background.
Feral horses of the Frisco Herd Management Area, Utah.
PopEquus: demonstration of a new horse management tool

Presenter: Kate Schoenecker

Overview: Here, we describe a user-friendly website application, PopEquus, that decision makers and interested individuals can use to simulate management alternatives and evaluate trade-offs among management and cost metrics. Our results and website application provide quantitative trade-off tools for horse population management decisions and can help support value-based management decisions for wild or feral horse populations and ecosystems at local and regional scales around the world. Learn more about PopEquus


Proximate factors affecting mortality or abandonment of free-roaming feral horse foals

Presenter: Sarah King

Overview: From 2017–2020, we examined factors affecting mother-foal bonds and their relation to foal survival in two feral horse populations in western Utah, USA, recording demographic and behavioral data and monitoring fate of foals (that is, horses under one year old). We found that abandonment of foals is a natural occurrence in feral horses and survival prognosis for foals abandoned due to natural or human-causes is high. Read the full study


January 30


Synthesizing science for decision makers to help bridge the gap between rangeland science and management on public lands

Presenter: Sarah Carter

Overview: In this work, we first characterized the nature of the gap between rangeland science and management on public lands by analyzing science and data use and in a sample of decision analyses completed by the Bureau of Land Management in Colorado. We then used the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) to develop a framework for a new type of product –structured science syntheses– that are specifically tailored to support NEPA analyses and public lands decision-making. We coproduced this work with the Bureau of Land Management and US Fish and Wildlife Service, with a focus on matching the structure and content of science syntheses to agency decision processes to help bridge the research-management gap on federal public rangelands. Learn more about our work on science syntheses.  

Individuals collaborating on a science plan in a conference room.
Stakeholder meeting for the development of a Science Plan for Agua Fria National Monument.
Developing BLM National Land Conservation System Science Plans: planning for land managers, scientists, and stakeholders

Presenter: Sam Jordan

Overview: Science planning within the Bureau of Land Managment National Land Conservation System Science units is an exciting opportunity for land managers, scientists, and stakeholders to collaboratively identify science needs for place-based knowledge. As the living laboratory for BLM lands, these areas contain both unique resources and opportunities to conduct research. Learn more about developing Science Plans




January 31


Assessing the effectiveness of targeted grazing for managing cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum) in the sagebrush biome

Presenter: Alex Stoneburner

Overview: We sought to synthesize science about whether targeted grazing may be effective in managing cheatgrass in the sagebrush biome, and more specifically, whether targeted grazing can be effective at reducing these fine fuels. Our synthesis starts by defining targeted grazing within the scope of fuels management. We then identify considerations regarding potential impacts to the affected environment, implementation and monitoring, and gaps identified in the literature. Learn more about our work on science syntheses. January 31.


Long-term costs and effects of biome-wide sagebrush conservation strategies for invasive annual grasses

Presenter: Elizabeth Orning

Overview: Here we present preliminary results from a spatially explicit state-and-transition simulation model (STSM) of invasive annual grasses (IAGs) developed in consultation with natural resource managers and other stakeholders across the sagebrush biome. The STSM was designed to understand the cost:benefit implications and cumulative effects of potential IAG (for example, cheatgrass) treatments and spatial prioritizations for strategies like the Sagebrush Conservation Design (SCD), and will help managers compare different approaches to IAG management and provide insights for implementation of the SCD. Read more about the economics of managing IAGs.


Cheatgrass invaded landscape
Cheatgrass invasion of sagebrush habitat after a fire.


Ignite Talks - January 31


Steve Hanser, FORT Deputy Center Director, will present as part of the session entitled, "Past, present, and future of the Sagebrush Steppe Treatment Evaluation Project (SageSTEP)" on the overall experimental design and data resources provided by this long-term research effort and is a co-author on a presentation about the songbird response to the treatments applied as part of the SageSTEP project and future directions of that work. Talks:

  • Presenter: SageSTEP experimental design and data resources
  • Coauthor: Songbird responses to fuel treatments and implications for threatened species



Sagebrush after juniper removal in Utah
Sagebrush habitat after conifer removal.

Adrian Monroe and Cameron Aldridge will both be presenting in the session entitled "Climate adaptations in big sagebrush ecosystems."


Planning for sagebrush restoration under a changing climate with range-wide soil climate products

Presenter: Adrian Monroe

Overview: We will present our recent soil climate products and sagebrush treatment analyses and summarize how these can be used to inform climate adaptation across the sagebrush biome. Learn more about sagebrush recovery research.


A Changing Sagebrush Ecosystem: Evaluation of resilient systems in the face of climate change.

Presenter: Cameron Aldridge 

Overview: In this presentation, I will share some of the challenges with understanding how the sagebrush ecosystem is responding to climate change, and provide some broad and provocative perspectives on science and management needs.


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