We studied nest survival of greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) in 5 subareas of Mono County, California, USA, from 2003 to 2005 to 1) evaluate the importance of key vegetation variables for nest success, and 2) to compare nest success in this population with other greater sage-grouse populations. We captured and radiotracked females (n = 72) to identify nest sites and monitor nest survival. We measured vegetation at nest sites and within a 10-m radius around each nest to evaluate possible vegetation factors influencing nest survival. We estimated daily nest survival and the effect of explanatory variables on daily nest survival using nest-survival models in Program MARK. We assessed effects on daily nest survival of total, sagebrush (Artemisia spp.), and nonsagebrush live shrub-cover, Robel visual obstruction, the mean of grass residual height and grass residual cover measurements within 10 m of the nest shrub, and area of the shrub, shrub height, and shrub type at the nest site itself. Assuming a 38-day exposure period, we estimated nest survival at 43.4%, with percent cover of shrubs other than sagebrush as the variable most related to nest survival. Nest survival increased with increasing cover of shrubs other than sagebrush. Also, daily nest survival decreased with nest age, and there was considerable variation in nest survival among the 5 subareas. Our results indicate that greater shrub cover and a diversity of shrub species within sagebrush habitats may be more important to sage-grouse nest success in Mono County than has been reported elsewhere.
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Vol. 73 • No. 8