Nesting habitat degradation and its negative effect on nesting success might contribute to the recent population and distributional declines of greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) throughout North America. We used radiotelemetry to locate greater sage-grouse nests in 7 different areas of central and southwestern Wyoming between 1994 and 2002; we studied each area for 2 to 4 years. Using binary logistic regression, we compared microsite vegetal data collected at nests (n = 457) and random (n = 563) sites and successful (n = 211) and unsuccessful (n = 238) nests to test hypotheses concerning greater sage-grouse nesting habitat selection and vegetal conditions associated with nesting success. We used Akaike's Information Criterion (AICc) and model averaging to make inference about the weighted support for the importance of individual habitat variables through the comparison of sets of competing models. Selected nest sites were located in areas with increased total shrub canopy cover (relative importance [RI] = 1.00), residual grass cover (RI = 0.47), and residual grass height (RI = 0.77) compared to random sites. Successful nests had increased residual grass cover (RI = 0.43) and height (RI = 0.48) relative to unsuccessful nests. Additionally, annual nest success rates (i.e., above vs. below our study's average) were related to the preceding year's spring (Apr–May; RI = 0.44) and winter–early spring (Jan–Jun) precipitation (RI = 0.32). Correct classification rates for weighted average models that we derived through the 3 comparisons were between 60 and 70%, suggesting the variables adequately differentiated between plot types. However, high model selection uncertainty (i.e., the total number of models included in the sets of AICc-selected models) suggested that nest site selection and nesting success may be influenced by factors not considered in the modeling process. Management strategies that protect dense sagebrush stands and enhance residual grass cover and height within those stands should be used to maintain nesting habitat and increase nesting success of greater sage-grouse.
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Vol. 69 • No. 2