RANGE-WIDE CONSERVATION ASSESSMENT FOR GREATER SAGE-GROUSE AND SAGEBRUSH HABITATS (2004)
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“The value of this assessment may not be in what we have written, but in the data that we have presented that now can be used for advancing our understanding of the ecology of sagebrush-dominated landscapes and species that depend upon them. Concerns for the conservation of sage-grouse and sagebrush ecosystems have been expressed for a long time (Patterson 1952, Braun et al. 1976). However, the inability to quantify and address the primary issues across the entire sagebrush biome limited those concerns because they lacked the breadth and geographic and temporal scope of information that we have presented in this assessment. Other large-scale, highly contentious natural resource issues, such as those surrounding conservation of spotted owls (Strix occidentalis), ultimately have resulted in significant contributions to conservation, ecology, and management (Noon and Franklin 2002). Similarly, we hope that the data that we have presented in this assessment will permit effective conservation plans to be developed that will ensure the species survival for generations to come.”
--Conclusion, Chapter 13, Range-wide Conservation Assessment of Greater Sage-grouse and Sagebrush Habitats.
Greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) once occupied parts of 12 states within the western United States and 3 Canadian provinces. Populations of greater sage-grouse have undergone long-term population declines. The sagebrush (Artemisia spp.) habitats on which sage-grouse depend have experienced extensive alteration and loss. Consequently, concerns raised for the conservation and management of sage-grouse and their habitats have resulted in petitions to list greater sage-grouse under the Endangered Species Act.
This is the first range-wide assessment of greater sage-grouse using the vast amount of population data collected over the past 60 years, habitat information spanning the last 100 years, and literature dating back 200 years. We did not make recommendations or suggest management strategies. Rather, our goal was to present an unbiased and scientific documentation of dominant issues and their effects on greater sage-grouse populations and sagebrush habitats.
We organized the Conservation Assessment into 4 main sections. In the first section, (Chapters 1 and 2), we presented background information on greater sage-grouse and sagebrush habitats. We first introduced the factors that have contributed to widespread concern about conservation and management of sage-grouse and sagebrush habitats. We also described the historical and legal administration as well as the current stewardship of sagebrush habitats. We then provided information on the conservation status of the species across its range-wide distribution. The second section (Chapters 3-5) provided information on the basic ecology of greater sage-grouse and sagebrush habitats. Our objectives were to develop the underlying foundation on which to assess information presented in the remainder of the document. In the third section (Chapters 6-12), we described the current situation and trends in sage-grouse populations and the dominant factors that individually and cumulatively influence sagebrush habitats. In the fourth section (Chapter 13), we integrated the habitat and population trend information into a synthesis of the conservation status for sage-grouse and sagebrush ecosystems in western North America.