The sagebrush (Artemisia spp.) ecosystem is one of the largest ecosystems in western North America providing habitat for species found nowhere else. Sagebrush habitats have experienced dramatic declines since the 1950s, mostly due to anthropogenic disturbances. The greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) is a sagebrush-obligate species that has experienced population declines over the last several decades, which are attributed to a variety of disturbances including the more recent threat of oil and gas development. We developed a hierarchical, Bayesian state-space model to investigate the impacts of 2 measures of oil and gas development, and environmental and habitat conditions, on sage-grouse populations in Wyoming, USA using male lek counts from 1984 to 2008. Lek attendance of male sage-grouse declined by approximately 2.5%/year and was negatively related to oil and gas well density. We found little support for the influence of sagebrush cover and precipitation on changes in lek counts. Our results support those of other studies reporting negative impacts of oil and gas development on sage-grouse populations and our modeling approach allowed us to make inference to a longer time scale and larger spatial extent than in previous studies. In addition to sage-grouse, development may also negatively affect other sagebrush-obligate species, and active management of sagebrush habitats may be necessary to maintain some species.
Additional publication details
|Publication Subtype||Journal Article|
|Title||Investigating impacts of oil and gas development on greater sage-grouse|
|Series title||Journal of Wildlife Management|
|Contributing office(s)||Fort Collins Science Center|