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    Populations of greater sage-grouse have declined dramatically across their North American range for many decades in response to harmful effects of a plethora of human activities and land uses, prompting legal actions to protect the species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). To evaluate the impacts of land-uses and habitat changes on sage-grouse, Michael Wisdom, a research wildlife biologist, and his colleagues used novel landscape modeling methods to carry out a comprehensive, range-wide analysis that considered 22 environmental factors in areas currently inhabited by sage-grouse compared to area where they have gone locally extinct. The Results validated basic knowledge of sage-grouse requirements that were previously contested by many landowners, in particular by identifying threshold values for the amount of sagebrush cover critical to population persistence. The assessment also revealed the negative and previously unknown impacts of tall-tower structures on sage-grouse habitation. The findings highlighted the urgency of integrating efforts among public agencies and private landowners at all resource management levels to counter the cumulative and synergistic threats to sage-grouse conservation. In combination with related studies, this research has expanded the scientific knowledge base for resource managers and other decisionmakers concerned with designing and implementing landscape strategies for sage-grouse recovery.

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    • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.


    Wisdom, Michael J.; Parks, Noreen. 2012. Sage-Grouse on the edge: understanding and managing western landscapes for their survival. Science Findings 142. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. 6 p.


    sage-grouse, habit, management, Wisdom

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