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Influence of changes in sagebrush on Gunnison sage grouse in Southwestern Colorado

Southwestern Naturalist

By:
, , and
https://doi.org/10.2307/3672428

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Abstract

The decline in abundance of the newly recognized Gunnison sage grouse (Centrocercus minimus) in southwestern Colorado is thought to be linked to loss and fragmentation of its habitat, sagebrush (Artemisia) vegetation. We documented changes in sagebrush-dominated areas between the 1950s and 1990s by comparing low level aerial photographs taken in these time periods. We documented a loss of 20% or 155,673 ha of sagebrush-dominated areas in southwestern Colorado between 1958 and 1993. The amount of sagebrush-dominated area was much higher and loss rates were much lower in the Gunnison Basin. We also found that 37% of plots sampled underwent substantial fragmentation of sagebrush vegetation. If current trends of habitat loss and fragmentation continue, Gunnison sage grouse (and perhaps other sagebrush-steppe obligates) may become extinct. Protecting the remaining habitat from further loss and fragmentation is paramount to the survival of this species.

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Article
Publication Subtype:
Journal Article
Title:
Influence of changes in sagebrush on Gunnison sage grouse in Southwestern Colorado
Series title:
Southwestern Naturalist
DOI:
10.2307/3672428
Volume:
46
Issue:
3
Year Published:
2001
Language:
English
Publisher:
Southwestern Association of Naturalists
Contributing office(s):
Fort Collins Science Center
Description:
9 p.
First page:
323
Last page:
331
Country:
United States
State:
Colorado