Intraseasonal variation in survival and probable causes of mortality in greater sage-grouse Centrocercus urophasianus

Wildlife Biology
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Abstract

The mortality process is a key component of avian population dynamics, and understanding factors that affect mortality is central to grouse conservation. Populations of greater sage-grouse Centrocercus urophasianus have declined across their range in western North America. We studied cause-specific mortality of radio-marked sage-grouse in Eureka County, Nevada, USA, during two seasons, nesting (2008-2012) and fall (2008-2010), when survival was known to be lower compared to other times of the year. We used known-fate and cumulative incidence function models to estimate weekly survival rates and cumulative risk of cause-specific mortalities, respectively. These methods allowed us to account for temporal variation in sample size and staggered entry of marked individuals into the sample to obtain robust estimates of survival and cause-specific mortality. We monitored 376 individual sage-grouse during the course of our study, and investigated 87 deaths. Predation was the major source of mortality, and accounted for 90% of all mortalities during our study. During the nesting season (1 April - 31 May), the cumulative risk of predation by raptors (0.10; 95% CI: 0.05-0.16) and mammals (0.08; 95% CI: 0.03-013) was relatively equal. In the fall (15 August - 31 October), the cumulative risk of mammal predation was greater (M(mam) = 0.12; 95% CI: 0.04-0.19) than either predation by raptors (M(rap) = 0.05; 95% CI: 0.00-0.10) or hunting harvest (M(hunt) = 0.02; 95% CI: 0.0-0.06). During both seasons, we observed relatively few additional sources of mortality (e.g. collision) and observed no evidence of disease-related mortality (e.g. West Nile Virus). In general, we found little evidence for intraseasonal temporal variation in survival, suggesting that the nesting and fall seasons represent biologically meaningful time intervals with respect to sage-grouse survival.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Intraseasonal variation in survival and probable causes of mortality in greater sage-grouse Centrocercus urophasianus
Series title Wildlife Biology
DOI 10.2981/13-001
Volume 19
Issue 4
Year Published 2013
Language English
Publisher Nordic Board for Wildlife Research
Contributing office(s) Western Ecological Research Center
Description 11 p.
Larger Work Type Article
Larger Work Subtype Journal Article
Larger Work Title Wildlife Biology
First page 347
Last page 357
Country United States
State Nevada
County Eureka County