Greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus; hereafter, sage-grouse) are a species of conservation concern in the rangelands of western North America due to their dramatic decline over the last half century. Effective conservation and management of sensitive species requires an understanding of how species respond to management actions. We examined two aspects of the reproductive phases of sage-grouse: nest predation, and habitat selection by female sage-grouse with chicks. In Chapter 1, we developed resource selection functions to assess the influence of mechanical treatments of mountain big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata vaseyana) on habitat selection by greater sage-grouse with chicks. Post-treatment sage-grouse showed stronger selection for treatments and treatment edges than did pre-treatment sage-grouse. This altered pattern of selection by sage-grouse with broods suggests mechanical treatments may be a suitable way to increase use of mountain big sagebrush during the brooding period. In Chapter 2, we assessed the effect of habitat edges on nest predation of sage-grouse. The "edge effect" hypothesis states that habitat edges are associated with reduced nest success for birds. We tested the edge effect hypothesis using 155 nest locations from 114 sage-grouse. We derived edge metrics for 11 habitat cover types to determine which variables may have affected nest predation. We found support for the edge effect hypothesis in that nest predation increased with increasing edge density of paved roads. We provide evidence that the edge effect hypothesis may apply to greater sage-grouse and their habitats. Based on our results, we recommend minimizing disturbances that fragment critical nesting habitat of greater sage-grouse.



College and Department

Life Sciences; Plant and Wildlife Sciences



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resource selection, mechanical treatment, mountain big sagebrush, Strawberry Valley, edge effect, nest predation, greater sage-grouse