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1 November 2006 Greater Sage-Grouse Response to Sagebrush Management in Utah
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Abstract

Greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) populations throughout much of their range have been declining. These declines have largely been attributed to the loss or deterioration of sagebrush (Artemisia spp.) habitat. In response government agencies such as the United States Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service are cost-sharing on management practices designed to improve habitat conditions for sage-grouse. Little is known regarding sage-grouse response to various sagebrush management techniques. We studied the effects of reducing sagebrush canopy cover using 2 mechanical (Dixie harrow and Lawson aerator) treatments and 1 chemical (Tebuthiuron) treatment on greater sage-grouse use of brood-rearing habitats on Parker Mountain, Utah, USA. To conduct this experiment, we identified 19 40.5-ha plots that exhibited >40% mountain big sagebrush (A. tridentata vaseyana) canopy cover and randomly assigned 16 as treatment or controls (4 replicates each). Tebuthiuron and Dixie-harrow-treated plots had more forb cover than did control plots (P = 0.01 and 0.02, respectively) in post-treatment periods. Greater sage-grouse brood use was higher in Tebuthiuron than control plots (P = 0.01). We believe this was attributed to increased herbaceous cover, particularly forb cover. However, in all plots, sage-grouse use was greatest within 10 m of the edge of the treatments where adjacent sagebrush cover was still available. Although the treatments we studied resulted in the plots achieving sage-grouse brooding-rearing habitat guidelines, caution should be exercised in applying these observations at lower elevations, on sites with less annual precipitation, or on a different subspecies of big sagebrush. Prior to using these techniques to implement large-scale sagebrush treatments, the specific rationale for conducting them should be clearly identified. Large-scale projects using the techniques we studied would not be appropriate within sage-grouse wintering or nesting habitat.

David K. Dahlgren, RENEE CHI, and Terry A. Messmer "Greater Sage-Grouse Response to Sagebrush Management in Utah," Wildlife Society Bulletin 34(4), 975-985, (1 November 2006). https://doi.org/10.2193/0091-7648(2006)34[975:GSRTSM]2.0.CO;2
Published: 1 November 2006
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