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10 December 2021 Does Reproductive Status Influence Habitat Selection by Female Greater Sage-Grouse in a Sagebrush-Juniper Landscape?,
Jordan C. Rabon, Peter S. Coates, Mark A. Ricca, Tracey N. Johnson
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Abstract

Greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus, hereafter, sage-grouse) have experienced habitat loss from expansion of juniper (Juniperus spp.) woodlands into sagebrush steppe. Sage-grouse avoid high levels of juniper cover (> 10% cover) but can vary in response to cover > 0–10%. Selection patterns by hens may be affected by differences in resource needs or predation risk between brooding (i.e., hens with chicks) and nonbrooding hens (i.e., hens without chicks). We investigated whether reproductive status influenced habitat selection at multiple spatial scales among hens in a landscape undergoing juniper expansion. We conducted our study during the 2017–2018 breeding seasons in southwestern Idaho. We collected habitat data at broad spatial extents (hereafter, macroscales) using remotely sensed layers and at a fine spatial extent (hereafter, microscale) with field-based surveys. We collected data at used and available locations for 11 brooding and 19 nonbrooding hens at macroscales (n = 2 059 locations) and microscales (n = 181 locations). At the macroscales, both reproductive groups avoided cover class II (> 10–20% juniper cover) and III (> 20% juniper cover) but nonbrooding hens were 2.8 × more likely to select cover class I (> 0–10% juniper cover) than brooding hens. In addition, nonbrooding hens selected wetlands dominated by woody vegetation (e.g., willows), whereas brooding hens selected wetlands dominated by herbaceous vegetation. At the microscale, brooding hens were 22.1 × more likely to select taller nonsagebrush shrubs than nonbrooding hens. Our results support our prediction that nonbrooding hens were more likely to select cover class I juniper than brooding hens. Our results help inform more targeted treatment whereby removal of juniper around wetlands and mesic habitats with taller nonsagebrush shrubs may be the most beneficial because increasing the availability of these habitats could positively influence survival of chicks and adults.

© 2021 The Society for Range Management. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Jordan C. Rabon, Peter S. Coates, Mark A. Ricca, and Tracey N. Johnson "Does Reproductive Status Influence Habitat Selection by Female Greater Sage-Grouse in a Sagebrush-Juniper Landscape?,," Rangeland Ecology and Management 79(1), 150-163, (10 December 2021). https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rama.2021.08.008
Received: 16 February 2021; Accepted: 16 August 2021; Published: 10 December 2021
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