Connecting Pattern and Process in Greater Sage-Grouse Populations and Sagebrush Landscapes

Steven T. Knick and Steven E. Hanser

in Greater Sage-Grouse

Published by University of California Press

Published in print May 2011 | ISBN: 9780520267114
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520948686 | DOI:
Connecting Pattern and Process in Greater Sage-Grouse Populations and Sagebrush Landscapes

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Spatial patterns influence the processes that maintain Greater Sage-Grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) populations and sagebrush (Artemisia spp.) landscapes on which they depend. Connectivity analyses were carried out to delineate the dominant pattern of sagebrush landscapes; identify regions of the current range-wide distribution of greater sage-grouse important for conservation; estimate distance thresholds that potentially isolate populations; and understand how landscape pattern, environmental disturbance, or location within the spatial network influenced lek persistence during a population decline. The most important leks (breeding locations) for maintaining connectivity, characterized by higher counts of sage-grouse and connections with other leks, were within the core regions of the sagegrouse range. Sage-grouse populations presently have the highest levels of connectivity in the Wyoming Basin and lowest in the Columbia Basin Sage-Grouse Management Zones (SMZs). Connectivity among sage-grouse populations was lost during population declines from 1965–1979 to 1998-2007, most dramatically in the Columbia Basin SMZ. Leks that persisted during this period were larger in size, were more highly connected, and had lower levels of broad-scale fire and human disturbance.

Keywords: Artemisia; Centrocercus urophasianus; Greater Sage-Grouse; sagebrush; spatial patterns; population declines; sagebrush landscapes; conservation; environmental disturbance; Sage-Grouse Management Zones

Chapter.  10986 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Vertebrates

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