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Acute and lagged fitness consequences for a sagebrush obligate in a post mega-wildfire landscape

December 30, 2021
Species responses to disturbance influence their extinction risks. Greater sage- grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) are bioindicators of sagebrush ecosystem health and the loss of sagebrush (Artemisia spp.) due to wildfire, can cause long-term declines in sage- grouse populations and other sagebrush obligate species. We examined the de-mographic response of a greater sage- grouse population following a mega-wildfire using stochastic age-structured female- based matrix models over 6 years (2013– 2018). Notably, chick survival (range = 0.18–0.38) and female survival (yearling range: 0.20–0.68; adult range: 0.27–0.75) were low compared to values reported for greater sage- grouse in other parts of their distribution. Greater sage- grouse displayed vari-ation in demographic tactics after the fire; however, adult female survival explained most of the variation in λ during each year, which reflected a declining population in 3 of 6 years with more uncertainty observed in 2015 when populations may have been increasing, and 2017 and 2018, when populations may have been declining. The continued annual population decline observed since 2016 suggested there were ad-ditional strong environmental impacts that may have been compounded by the fire effects, prolonging recovery of greater sage- grouse. Our results support others that reported negative effects to greater sage- grouse demographics from broad-scale fire and provide a baseline for understanding how this species responds to loss of sage-brush cover based on their life history strategy.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2022
Title Acute and lagged fitness consequences for a sagebrush obligate in a post mega-wildfire landscape
DOI 10.1002/ece3.8488
Authors Christopher R. Anthony, Lee J. Foster, Christian A. Hagen, Catherine M. Dugger
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Ecology and Evolution
Index ID 70229111
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Coop Res Unit Seattle