The condition of the sagebrush ecosystem has been declining in the Western United States, and greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus), a sagebrush-obligate species, has experienced concurrent decreases in distribution and population numbers. This has prompted substantial research and management over the past two decades to improve the understanding of sage-grouse and its habitats and to address the observed decreases in distribution and population numbers. The amount of research and management has increased as the year 2015 approaches, which is when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) is expected to make a final decision about whether or not to protect the species under the Endangered Species Act.
In 2012, the Sage-Grouse Executive Oversight Committee (EOC) of the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA) requested that the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) lead the development of a Greater Sage-Grouse National Research Strategy (hereafter Research Strategy). This request was motivated by a practical need to systematically connect existing research and conservation plans with persisting or emerging information needs. Managers and researchers also wanted to reduce redundancy and help focus limited funds on the highest priority research and management issues.
The USGS undertook the development of this Research Strategy, which addresses information and science relating to the greater sage-grouse and its habitat across portions of 11 Western States. This Research Strategy provides an outline of important research topics to ensure that science information gaps are identified and documented in a comprehensive manner. Further, by identifying priority topics and critical information needed for planning, research, and resource management, it provides a structure to help coordinate members of an expansive research and management community in their efforts to conduct priority research.