The distribution of the greater sage-grouse (hereafter sage-grouse; Centrocercus urophasianus) has declined to 56% of its pre-settlement distribution (Schroeder et al. 2004) and abundance of males attending leks has decreased substantially over the past 50 years throughout the species’ range (Garton et al. 2011, Garton et al. 2015, WAFWA 2015). Livestock grazing is a common land use within sage-grouse habitat, and livestock grazing has been implicated by some experts as one of numerous factors contributing to sage-grouse population declines (Beck and Mitchell 2000, Schroeder et al. 2004). However, there are also numerous mechanisms by which livestock grazing might benefit sage-grouse (Beck and Mitchell 2000, Crawford et al. 2004). Livestock grazing on public lands is often restricted to limit negative effects on populations of plants and animals, but we lack scientific studies that have explicitly examined the effects of livestock grazing on sage-grouse. The objective of the Grouse & Grazing study is to document the effects of spring cattle grazing on sage-grouse demographic traits, nest-site selection, and habitat features. We focus on spring cattle grazing because spring is thought to be the time when livestock grazing is most likely to adversely affect sage-grouse (Neel 1980, Pedersen et al. 2003, Boyd et al. 2014).
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