Nest-site selection and reproductive success of greater sage-grouse in a fire-affected habitat of northwestern Nevada

Journal of Wildlife Management
By: , and 

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Abstract

Identifying links between micro-habitat selection and wildlife reproduction is imperative to population persistence and recovery. This information is particularly important for landscape species such as greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus; sage-grouse). Although this species has been widely studied, because environmental factors can affect sage-grouse populations, local and regional studies are crucial for developing viable conservation strategies. We studied the habitat-use patterns of 71 radio-marked sage-grouse inhabiting an area affected by wildfire in the Virginia Mountains of northwestern Nevada during 2009–2011 to determine the effect of micro-habitat attributes on reproductive success. We measured standard vegetation parameters at nest and random sites using a multi-scale approach (range = 0.01–15,527 ha). We used an information-theoretic modeling approach to identify environmental factors influencing nest-site selection and survival, and determine whether nest survival was a function of resource selection. Sage-grouse selected micro-sites with greater shrub canopy cover and less cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum) cover than random sites. Total shrub canopy, including sagebrush (Artemisia spp.) and other shrub species, at small spatial scales (0.8 ha and 3.1 ha) was the single contributing selection factor to higher nest survival. These results indicate that reducing the risk of wildfire to maintain important sagebrush habitats could be emphasized in sage-grouse conservation strategies in Nevada. Managers may seek to mitigate the influx of annual grass invasion by preserving large intact sagebrush-dominated stands with a mixture of other shrub species. For this area of Nevada, the results suggest that ≥40% total shrub canopy cover in sage-grouse nesting areas could yield improved reproductive success. 

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Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Nest-site selection and reproductive success of greater sage-grouse in a fire-affected habitat of northwestern Nevada
Series title Journal of Wildlife Management
DOI 10.1002/jwmg.899
Volume 79
Issue 5
Year Published 2015
Language English
Publisher Wildlife Society
Contributing office(s) Western Ecological Research Center
Description 13 p.
First page 785
Last page 797
Country United States
State Nevada
Other Geospatial Virginia Mountains
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N