Conservation Assessment of Greater Sage-grouse and Sagebrush Habitats
San J Stiver
Michael A Schroeder
John W Connelly
Steven T Knick
Tags: WLCI Related Publication
Greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) once occupied parts of 12 states within the western United States and 3 Canadian provinces. Populations of greater sage-grouse have undergone long-term population declines. The sagebrush (Artemisia spp.) habitats on which sage-grouse depend have experienced extensive alteration and loss. Consequently, concerns raised for the conservation and management of greater sage-grouse and their habitats have resulted in petitions to list greater sage-grouse under the Endangered Species Act. In this report, we assessed the ecological status and potential factors that influenced greater sage-grouse and sagebrush habitats across their entire distribution. We used a large-scale approach to identify regional patterns of habitat, disturbance, land use practices, and population trends. We included literature spanning the last 200 years, landscape information dating back 100 years, and population data collected over the last 60 years.
We described the primary issues that influenced greater sage-grouse and sagebrush habitats for an area that exceeded >2,000,000 km2 (>770,000 mi2) in size. To do this, we compiled, integrated, and analyzed data obtained from agencies and organizations within 14 states, >13 federal agencies, and 2 nations. We did not make recommendations or suggest management strategies. Rather, our goal was to present an unbiased and scientific documentation of dominant issues and their effects on greater sage-grouse populations and sagebrush habitats.
We organized the Conservation Assessment into 4 main sections. In the first section, (Chapters 1 and 2), we present background information on greater sage-grouse and sagebrush habitats. We first introduce the factors that have contributed to widespread concern about conservation and management of greater sage-grouse and sagebrush habitats. We also describe the historical and legal administration as well as the current stewardship of sagebrush habitats. We then provide information on the conservation status of the species across its range-wide distribution. The second section (Chapters 3-5) provides information on the basic ecology of greater sage-grouse and sagebrush habitats. Our objectives were to develop the underlying foundation on which to assess information presented in the remainder of the document. In the third section (Chapters 6-12), we describe the current situation and trends in greater sage-grouse populations and the dominant factors that individually and cumulatively influence sagebrush habitats. In the fourth section (Chapter 13), we integrate the habitat and population trend information into a synthesis of the conservation status for greater sage-grouse and sagebrush ecosystems in western North America.