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
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 Basin.
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.
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; 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.
Pinyon and juniper encroachment into sagebrush ecosystems impacts distribution and survival of greater sage-grouse
In sagebrush (Artemisia spp.) ecosystems, encroachment of pinyon (Pinus spp.) and juniper (Juniperus spp.; hereafter, “pinyon-juniper”) trees has increased dramatically since European settlement. Understanding the impacts of this encroachment on behavioral decisions, distributions, and population dynamics of greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus...Coates, Peter S.; Prochazka, Brian; Ricca, Mark; Gustafson, K. Ben; Ziegler, Pilar T.; Casazza, Michael L.
A serosurvey of Greater Sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) in Nevada, USA
To better understand the potential avian diseases in Greater Sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) in the Great Basin in Nevada, we collected 31 blood samples March–April 2014 and tested for antibodies to eight viruses and two bacteria. Specifically, sera were tested for antibodies to avian leukosis virus type A, B, and J (ALV-A, ALV-B, and ALV-...Sinai, Nancy L; Coates, Peter S.; Andrle, Katelyn M.; Jefferis, Chad; Sentíes–Cué, C. Gabriel; Pitesky, Maurice E.
Active season microhabitat and vegetation selection by giant gartersnakes associated with a restored marsh in California
Studies of habitat selection can reveal important patterns to guide habitat restoration and management for species of conservation concern. Giant gartersnakes Thamnophis gigas are endemic to the Central Valley of California, where >90% of their historical wetland habitat has been converted to agricultural and other uses. Information about the...Halstead, Brian J.; Valcarcel, Patricia; Wylie, Glenn D.; Coates, Peter S.; Casazza, Michael L.; Rosenberg, Daniel K.
Survival of translocated sharp-tailed grouse: Temporal threshold and age effects
Context: The Columbian sharp-tailed grouse (Tympanuchus phasianellus columbianus) is a subspecies of conservation concern in the western United States, currently occupying ≤10% of its historic range. Land and management agencies are employing translocation techniques to restore Columbian sharp-tailed grouse (CSTG) populations. However,...Mathews, Steven; Coates, Peter S.; Delehanty, David J.
Importance of regional variation in conservation planning: A rangewide example of the Greater Sage-Grouse
We developed rangewide population and habitat models for Greater Sage-Grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) that account for regional variation in habitat selection and relative densities of birds for use in conservation planning and risk assessments. We developed a probabilistic model of occupied breeding habitat by statistically linking habitat...Doherty, Kevin E; Evans, Jeffrey S.; Coates, Peter S.; Juliusson, Lara; Fedy, Bradley C.
Monitoring and research on the Bi-State Distinct Population Segment of greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) in the Pine Nut Mountains, California and Nevada—Study progress report, 2011–15
The Bi-State distinct population segment (DPS) of greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) that occurs along the Nevada–California border was proposed for listing as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) in October 2013. However, in April 2015, the FWS determined that the Bi-State DPS...Coates, Peter S.; Andrle, Katie M.; Ziegler, Pilar T.; Casazza, Michael L.
Encounters with Pinyon-Juniper influence riskier movements in Greater Sage-Grouse across the Great Basin
Fine-scale spatiotemporal studies can better identify relationships between individual survival and habitat fragmentation so that mechanistic interpretations can be made at the population level. Recent advances in Global Positioning System (GPS) technology and statistical models capable of deconstructing high-frequency location data have...Prochazka, Brian; Coates, Peter S.; Ricca, Mark; Casazza, Michael L.; Gustafson, K. Ben; Hull, Josh M.
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.