Sagebrush (Artemisia spp.) is an important source of food and cover for many animals, especially during winter months. Understanding how wildlife species respond to sagebrush management actions can help improve conservation planning. Dixie harrow is a method of improving spring/summer habitat for many herbivores by reducing sagebrush cover to stimulate the growth of grasses and forbs. These treatments, however, may influence the quantity and quality of sagebrush available to greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus; hereafter, sage-grouse) during winter. We evaluated the effects of Dixie harrow on sage-grouse resource selection during winter (Chapter 1) and on the nutritional value of sagebrush (Chapter 2). We were unsure what effect Dixie harrow would have on the nutritional value of sagebrush, but hypothesized that sage-grouse would select for untreated areas because they contained a higher quantity of food and cover. We captured 81 sage-grouse and fit them with GPS transmitters. Using 6,728 winter locations, we modeled third-order resource selection. Further, we collected samples of sagebrush plants that sage-grouse had eaten from (n = 54), samples of sagebrush plants passed by but not eaten from (n = 54), as well as samples from random locations inside (n = 60) and outside Dixie harrow treatments (n = 60). Contrary to our hypothesis, sage-grouse selected for Dixie harrow treatments during winter. We found that sage-grouse selectively browsed sagebrush plants with increased nutritional value, and that sage-grouse browsed plants inside treatments more frequently than outside the treatments, but Dixie harrow treatments had no measurable effect on the nutritional value of sagebrush. Based on our results, Dixie harrow treatments performed at the southern extent of the sage-grouse range will create habitat that sage-grouse prefer during winter, but we were unable to ascertain why sage-grouse select for Dixie harrow treatments during winter.
College and Department
Life Sciences; Plant and Wildlife Sciences
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Wood, Jason Alan, "The Effects of Dixie Harrow Treatments on Greater Sage-grouse Resource Selection and the Nutritional Value of Sagebrush During Winter" (2019). Theses and Dissertations. 8253.
Dixie harrow, sagebrush, Grass Valley, greater sage-grouse, primary metabolite, secondary metabolite, resource selection