Interseasonal movements of greater sage-grouse, migratory behavior, and an assessment of the core regions concept in Wyoming

Journal of Wildlife Management

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DOI: 10.1002/jwmg.337



Animals can require different habitat types throughout their annual cycles. When considering habitat prioritization, we need to explicitly consider habitat requirements throughout the annual cycle, particularly for species of conservation concern. Understanding annual habitat requirements begins with quantifying how far individuals move across landscapes between key life stages to access required habitats. We quantified individual interseasonal movements for greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus; hereafter sage-grouse) using radio-telemetry spanning the majority of the species distribution in Wyoming. Sage-grouse are currently a candidate for listing under the United States Endangered Species Act and Wyoming is predicted to remain a stronghold for the species. Sage-grouse use distinct seasonal habitats throughout their annual cycle for breeding, brood rearing, and wintering. Average movement distances in Wyoming from nest sites to summer-late brood-rearing locations were 8.1 km (SE = 0.3 km; n = 828 individuals) and the average subsequent distances moved from summer sites to winter locations were 17.3 km (SE = 0.5 km; n = 607 individuals). Average nest-to-winter movements were 14.4 km (SE = 0.6 km; n = 434 individuals). We documented remarkable variation in the extent of movement distances both within and among sites across Wyoming, with some individuals remaining year-round in the same vicinity and others moving over 50 km between life stages. Our results suggest defining any of our populations as migratory or non-migratory is innappropriate as individual strategies vary widely. We compared movement distances of birds marked using Global Positioning System (GPS) and very high frequency (VHF) radio marking techniques and found no evidence that the heavier GPS radios limited movement. Furthermore, we examined the capacity of the sage-grouse core regions concept to capture seasonal locations. As expected, we found the core regions approach, which was developed based on lek data, was generally better at capturing the nesting locations than summer or winter locations. However, across Wyoming the sage-grouse breeding core regions still contained a relatively high percentage of summer and winter locations and seem to be a reasonable surrogate for non-breeding habitat when no other information exists. We suggest that conservation efforts for greater sage-grouse implicitly incorporate seasonal habitat needs because of high variation in the amount of overlap among breeding core regions and non-breeding habitat.

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Journal Article
Interseasonal movements of greater sage-grouse, migratory behavior, and an assessment of the core regions concept in Wyoming
Series title:
Journal of Wildlife Management
Year Published:
The Wildlife Society
Publisher location:
Bethesda, MD
Contributing office(s):
Fort Collins Science Center
10 p.
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Larger Work Subtype:
Journal Article
Larger Work Title:
Journal of Wildlife Management
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United States