Sagebrush lands in the Intermountain West are declining rapidly in quality and extent. Consequently, populations of many bird species dependent on these ecosystems also are declining. The greater sage-grouse has been petitioned for listing as a threatened and endangered species, and other species of sagebrush-obligate birds have special conservation status in most states. We identified the primary issues and information needs during a multi-agency workshop, conducted in response to concerns by management agencies related to declining bird population trends in sagebrush habitats. Priority needs were to (1) obtain a better understanding of bird response to habitat and landscape features, (2) develop monitoring designs to sample habitats and bird populations, (3) determine the effects of land use on sagebrush habitats and dependent bird species, and (4) identify linkages between breeding and wintering ranges. This agenda will identify causes and mechanisms of population declines in birds dependent on sagebrush ecosystems and will lead to better management of the ecosystems upon which they depend.
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Loss of sagebrush ecosystems and declining bird populations in the Intermountain West: Priority research issues and information needs