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September 2, 2023

In this chapter, we summarize the ecology and conservation issues affecting greater (Centrocercus urophasianus) and Gunnison (C. minimus) sage-grouse, iconic and obligate species of rangelands in the sagebrush (Artemisia spp.) biome in western North America. Greater sage-grouse are noted for their ability to migrate, whereas Gunnison sage-grouse localize near leks year-round. Seasonal habitats include breeding habitat where males display at communal leks, nesting habitat composed of dense sagebrush and herbaceous plants to conceal nests, mesic summer habitats where broods are reared, and winter habitat, characterized by access to sagebrush for cover and forage. While two-thirds of sage-grouse habitat occurs on public lands, private land conservation is the focus of national groups including the USDA-NRCS Sage-Grouse Initiative. Sage-grouse are a species of great conservation concern due to population declines associated with loss and fragmentation of more than half of the sagebrush biome. Wildlife and land management agencies have been increasingly proactive in monitoring trends in sage-grouse populations (e.g., lek count index), adapting regulations to reduce harvest on declining populations, and in designing and implementing conservation policies such as core areas to conserve sage-grouse habitats and populations. Much of the remaining sagebrush habitat is threatened by altered fire regimes, invasive annual grasses and noxious weeds, encroaching piñon (Pinus edulis and monophylla)-juniper (Juniperus spp.) woodlands, sagebrush conversion, anthropogenic development, and climate change. Several diseases affect sage-grouse, but to date, disease has not been a widespread cause of declines. Proper livestock grazing and limited hunting appear to be sustainable with sage-grouse, whereas improper grazing, increasing free-roaming equid populations, and sagebrush conversion are primary concerns for future conservation. Research has identified additional concerns for sage-grouse including effects from fence collisions, predation from common ravens (Corvus corax), and reduced habitat effectiveness resulting from grouse avoidance of anthropogenic infrastructure. There is a need for future research evaluating sage-grouse habitat restoration practices following improper rangeland management, habitat alteration from invasive species and fire, effects on small and isolated populations, and effects from diseases.

Publication Year 2023
Title Sage-grouse
DOI 10.1007/978-3-031-34037-6_10
Authors Jeffrey L. Beck, Thomas J Christiansen, Kirk W. Davies, Jonathan B. Dinkins, Adrian P. Monroe, David E. Naugle, Michael A Schroeder
Publication Type Book Chapter
Publication Subtype Book Chapter
Index ID 70248269
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Fort Collins Science Center