Dr. Peter Coates is interested in sound science and management practices aimed at restoring wildlife communities and their habitats. He is committed to progressive, scientifically defensible conservation actions in the face of increasing human population size and individual consumption. Abundance and distribution of wild populations often can be linked to changes in their environments caused by human land use practices, but identifying the ecological mechanisms of declining populations are often challenging. Specifically, Dr. Coates is interested in investigating the links between nesting habitat, predator composition, and incubation behavior and success of birds. Additionally, he is interested in the effects of anthropogenic-resource subsidies on the survival and reproduction of predators and how these changes influence demographics and distribution of prey populations. Dr. Coates seeks to develop a broader understanding of how human-caused landscape changes affect communities and aim to identify restoration practices that preserve natural ecological processes. He is also interested in behavioral traits of grouse that affect population establishment and persistence in the face of environmental challenges.
- Avian Ecology
- Behavioral ecology of vertebrates
- Conservation biology
- Effects of Anthropogenic Disturbance
- Geographic Information Systems
- Habitat modeling
- Telemetry (radio and/or satellite)
- Ph. D., Biology, Idaho State University 2007
- M. S., Biology, University of Nevada Reno 2001
- B. S., Conservation Biology, University of Nevada Reno 1998
PROFESSIONAL AND HONORARY SOCIETIES AND SCIENCE ADVISORY COMMITTEES
- American Ornithologists Union
- Cooper Ornithological Society
- Jack H. Berryman Institute
- Society for Conservation Biology
- The Wildlife Society
- Wildlife Biologist, U. S. Geological Survey, 2008–present
- Postdoctoral Appointment, Idaho State University, 2008
- Seasonal Wildlife Biologist, Wildlife Conservation Society, 2007
- Graduate Research Assistantship, Idaho State University, 2002–2007
- Teaching Assistantship, Idaho State University, 2004–2007
- National Science Foundation GK–12 Teaching F, Idaho State University, 2005–2006
- Seasonal Biological Specialist, U. S. Department of Agriculture, 2003–2005
- Field Research Technician, University of Nevada Reno, 1999
- Conservation Biological Technician I, II, and III, Nevada Department of Wildlife, 1996–1998
Science and Products
WERC scientists are defining the past, present, and future of wildfires for wildlife and human communities. Explore this webpage to learn about specific, ongoing projects across California and parts of Nevada.
Greater Sage-grouse are iconic birds found only in the Great Basin of the western U.S. Known for their showy courting displays, sage-grouse rely on native sagebrush habitat to shelter their young. Dr. Pete Coates is providing resource managers with the tools and information they need to conserve sage-grouse as invasive plants, evolving wildfire patterns, and energy development change the Great...
The Greater Sage-grouse is a small bird found only in the sagebrush steppe of the Great Basin. Invasions of non-native grasses, evolving wildfire patterns, grazing from livestock, and human land uses are changing this unique ecosystem. WERC’s Dr. Pete Coates studies sage-grouse populations to determine how these influences could affect the bird and other wildlife in the future.
Years after the last inmate departed Alcatraz Island, waterbirds like Black-crowned Night Herons and Snowy Egrets still make the forbidding island their home. The National Park Service has requested the aid of WERC’s Dr. Pete Coates to inform efforts to expand visitor access to the Island, and simultaneously maintain healthy waterbird populations.
WERC scientists at the Dixon Field Station conduct studies from the San Francisco Bay-Delta in California to the Great Basin spanning California and Nevada.
An integrated population model for greater Sage-Grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) in the bi-state distinct population segment, California and Nevada, 2003–17
The Bi-State Distinct Population Segment (DPS) of greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus, hereinafter “sage-grouse”) occupies parts of Alpine, Mono, and Inyo Counties in California, and parts of Douglas, Esmeralda, Lyon, Carson City, and Mineral Counties in Nevada and was proposed for listing as threatened under the Endangered Species Act...Mathews, Steven R.; Coates, Peter S.; Prochazka, Brian G.; Ricca, Mark A.; Meyerpeter, Mary B.; Espinosa, Shawn P.; Lisius, Sherri; Gardner, Scott C.; Delehanty, David J.
Movements of female Sage Grouse Centrocercus urophasianus during incubation recess
We combined GPS data‐loggers, VHF transmitters, and DVR video‐monitoring to measure fine‐scale movement patterns during daily incubation recesses by female Sage Grouse Centrocercus urophasianus, a species with uniparental incubation that has experienced widespread population decline and distributional contraction. Most (69.6%) Sage Grouse...Dudko, Jonathan E.; Coates, Peter S.; Delehanty, David J.
Broad‐scale occurrence of a subsidized avian predator: reducing impacts of ravens on sage‐grouse and other sensitive prey
Expanding human enterprise across remote environments impacts numerous wildlife species. Anthropogenic resources provide subsidies for generalist predators that can lead to cascading effects on prey species at lower trophic levels. A fundamental challenge for applied ecologists is to disentangle natural and anthropogenic influences on species...O'Neil, Shawn T.; Coates, Peter S.; Brussee, Brianne E.; Jackson, Pat J.; Howe, Kristy B.; Moser, Ann M.; Foster, Lee J.; Delehanty, David J.
A conservation paradox in the Great Basin—Altering sagebrush landscapes with fuel breaks to reduce habitat loss from wildfire
Interactions between fire and nonnative, annual plant species (that is, “the grass/fire cycle”) represent one of the greatest threats to sagebrush (Artemisia spp.) ecosystems and associated wildlife, including the greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus). In 2015, U.S. Department of the Interior called for a “science-based strategy to...Shinneman, Douglas J.; Aldridge, Cameron L.; Coates, Peter S.; Germino, Matthew J.; Pilliod, David S.; Vaillant, Nicole M.
Greater sage-grouse science (2015–17)—Synthesis and potential management implications
Executive SummaryThe greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus; hereafter called “sage-grouse”), a species that requires sagebrush (Artemisia spp.), has experienced range-wide declines in its distribution and abundance. These declines have prompted substantial research and management investments to improve the understanding of sage-grouse and...Hanser, Steven E.; Deibert, Patricia A.; Tull, John C.; Carr, Natasha B.; Aldridge, Cameron L.; Bargsten, Travis D.; Christiansen, Thomas J.; Coates, Peter S.; Crist, Michele R.; Doherty, Kevin E.; Ellsworth, Ethan A.; Foster, Lee J.; Herren, Vicki A.; Miller, Kevin H.; Moser, Ann; Naeve, Robin M.; Prentice, Karen L.; Remington, Thomas E.; Ricca, Mark A.; Shinneman, Douglas J.; Truex, Richard L.; Wiechman , Lief A. ; Wilson, Dereck C.; Bowen, Zachary H.
The relative importance of intrinsic and extrinsic drivers to population growth vary among local populations of Greater Sage-Grouse: An integrated population modeling approach
Consideration of ecological scale is fundamental to understanding and managing avian population growth and decline. Empirically driven models for population dynamics and demographic processes across multiple spatial scales can be powerful tools to help guide conservation actions. Integrated population models (IPMs) provide a framework for better...Coates, Peter S.; Prochazka, Brian G.; Ricca, Mark A.; Halstead, Brian J.; Casazza, Michael L.; Blomberg, Erik J.; Brussee, Brianne E.; Wiechman, Lief; Tebbenkamp, Joel; Gardner, Scott C.; Reese, Kerry P.
Serologic surveillance of wild and pen-reared ring-necked pheasants (Phasianus colchicus) as a method of understanding disease reservoirs
We investigated exposure to infectious diseases in wild (n=33) and pen-reared (n=12) Ring-necked Pheasants (Phasianus colchicus) in the Central Valley of California during 2014 and 2015. Serologic tests were positive for antibodies against hemorrhagic enteritis (HE), infectious bursal disease (IBD), and Newcastle disease (ND) viruses in both wild...Dwight, Ian; Coates, Peter S.; Stoute, Simone T.; Senties-Cue, C. Gabriel; Gharpure, Radhika V.; Pitesky, Maurice E.
Greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) nesting and brood-rearing microhabitat in Nevada and California—Spatial variation in selection and survival patterns
Greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus; hereinafter, "sage-grouse") are highly dependent on sagebrush (Artemisia spp.) dominated vegetation communities for food and cover from predators. Although this species requires the presence of sagebrush shrubs in the overstory, it also inhabits a broad geographic distribution with significant...Coates, Peter S.; Brussee, Brianne E.; Ricca, Mark A.; Dudko, Jonathan E.; Prochazka, Brian G.; Espinosa, Shawn P.; Casazza, Michael L.; Delehanty, David J.
Hierarchical population monitoring of greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) in Nevada and California—Identifying populations for management at the appropriate spatial scale
Population ecologists have long recognized the importance of ecological scale in understanding processes that guide observed demographic patterns for wildlife species. However, directly incorporating spatial and temporal scale into monitoring strategies that detect whether trajectories are driven by local or regional factors is challenging and...Coates, Peter S.; Prochazka, Brian G.; Ricca, Mark A.; Wann, Gregory T.; Aldridge, Cameron L.; Hanser, Steven E.; Doherty, Kevin E.; O'Donnell, Michael S.; Edmunds, David R.; Espinosa, Shawn P.
Using object-based image analysis to conduct high-resolution conifer extraction at regional spatial scales
The distribution and abundance of pinyon (Pinus monophylla) and juniper (Juniperus osteosperma, J. occidentalis) trees (hereinafter, "pinyon-juniper") in sagebrush (Artemisia spp.) ecosystems of the Great Basin in the Western United States has increased substantially since the late 1800s. Distributional expansion and infill of pinyon-juniper into...Coates, Peter S.; Gustafson, K. Benjamin; Roth, Cali L.; Chenaille, Michael P.; Ricca, Mark A.; Mauch, Kimberly; Sanchez-Chopitea, Erika; Kroger, Travis J.; Perry, William M.; Casazza, Michael L.
Observations of indirect filial cannibalism in response to nest failure of Black-crowned Night-Herons (Nycticorax nycticorax)
During 2011, four separate instances of indirect filial cannibalism, whereby adults consumed their young that died from unknown causes, were observed using video-monitoring techniques in a nesting colony of Black-crowned Night-Herons (Nycticorax nycticorax) on Alcatraz Island. Though they were not observed actively killing their young, in all four...Brussee, Brianne E.; Coates, Peter S.; Dwight, Ian; Young, Laura G.
Long-term and widespread changes in agricultural practices influence ring-necked pheasant abundance in California
Declines in bird populations in agricultural regions of North America and Europe have been attributed to agricultural industrialization, increases in use of agrochemical application, and increased predation related to habitat modification. Based on count data compiled from Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) from 1974 to 2012, Christmas Bird Count (CBC)...Coates, Peter S.; Brussee, Brianne E.; Howe, Kristy B.; Fleskes, Joseph P.; Dwight, Ian; Connelly, Daniel P.; Meshriy, Matt G.; Gardner, Scott C.
Linear fuel breaks have long been used to help suppress fire in the Great Basin, and thousands of miles of new fuel breaks may be constructed in coming years to protect sagebrush ecosystems, including greater sage-grouse habitat.
Slowing fire-related population declines in greater sage-grouse in the Great Basin over the next 30 years may depend on the intensity of fire suppression efforts in core breeding areas and long-term patterns of precipitation, according to a just-published USGS-led study.