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Wildfire immediately reduces nest and adult survival of greater sage-grouse

July 6, 2023

Wildfire events are becoming more frequent and severe on a global scale. Rising temperatures, prolonged drought, and the presence of pyrophytic invasive grasses are contributing to the degradation of native vegetation communities. Within the Great Basin region of the western U.S., increasing wildfire frequency is transforming the ecosystem toward a higher degree of homogeneity, one dominated by invasive annual grasses and declining landscape productivity. Greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus; hereafter sage-grouse) are a species of conservation concern that rely on large tracts of structurally and functionally diverse sagebrush (Artemisia spp.) communities. Using a 12-year (2008–2019) telemetry dataset, we documented immediate impacts of wildfire on demographic rates of a population of sage-grouse that were exposed to two large wildfire events (Virginia Mountains Fire Complex—2016; Long Valley Fire—2017) near the border of California and Nevada. Spatiotemporal heterogeneity in demographic rates were accounted for using a Before-After Control-Impact Paired Series (BACIPS) study design. Results revealed a 40% reduction in adult survival and a 79% reduction in nest survival within areas impacted by wildfires. Our results indicate that wildfire has strong and immediate impacts to two key life stages of a sagebrush indicator species and underscores the importance of fire suppression and immediate restoration following wildfire events.

Publication Year 2023
Title Wildfire immediately reduces nest and adult survival of greater sage-grouse
DOI 10.1038/s41598-023-32937-2
Authors Emily (Emmy) A Tyrrell, Peter S. Coates, Brian G. Prochazka, Brianne E. Brussee, Shawn P. Espinosa, Joshua M. Hull
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Scientific Reports
Index ID 70246564
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Western Ecological Research Center