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A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Wildlife Biology Utah State University, Logan, Utah Abstract: "Declines in the distribution and abundance of greater sage-grouse ( Centrocercus urophasianus ; hereafter “sage - grouse” ) in western North America over the past century have been severe. The goal of my research was to increase the understanding of factors influencing where sage-grouse hens placed their nests, how common ravens ( Corvus corax : hereafter “raven” ) impacted sage-grouse nest success, and whether high raptor densities negatively impacted hen survival of sage-grouse. I compared raven and raptor densities at sage-grouse nest...
Sage-grouse (Centrocercus spp.) populations have declined dramatically throughout the western United States since the 1960s. Increased gas and oil development during this time has potentially contributed to the declines. I investigated impacts of development of natural gas fields on greater sage- grouse (C. urophasianus) breeding behavior, seasonal habitat selection, and population growth in the upper Green River Basin of western Wyoming. Greater sage-grouse in western Wyoming appeared to be excluded from attending leks situated within or near the development boundaries of natural gas fields. Declines in the number of displaying males were positively correlated with decreased distance from leks to gas-field-related...
Black Gold is a collection of nine articles looking at specific individuals, oil fields, issues, and oil companies in the history of Wyoming's oil industry. Individually, each chapter focuses on an important item or incident in that history; together they illustrate patterns in the development of Wyoming's oil industry. The reader will come to see the important roll played by big business and the federal government in Wyoming's oil history. This roll at times contributed to, and at other times retarded, the development of Wyoming's oil industry.
Microtus richardsoni, the water vole, was listed as a sensitive species in Region 2 of the USDA Forest Service in 1994. Historical records indicate water voles were found in the Big Horn Mountains, but little was known about their current status. The purpose of this study was to locate water voles in the Big Horn Mountains of Wyoming, develop a habitat profile, and evaluate the extent to which livestock grazing affects them. Accessible creeks with habitat requirements for water voles were surveyed. Water voles were not captured below 2440 m. Grazed and ungrazed sites occupied by water voles were matched and analyzed for percent plant cover, dry weight biomass, riparian classification, mean stream depth, channel...
Some ecological characteristics of 25 white-tailed (Cynomys leucurus) and 21 black-tailed (Cynomys ludovicianus) prairie dog colinies in Wyoming were compared. The size of the colonies and density of burrow openings were similar for the two species, but the number of white-tailed prairie dogs per 100 km2 and the number of hectares occupied by white-tails per 100 km 2 were 3.7 and 4.6 times greater, respectively, than for black-tails. Sixty-four vertebrate species (22 mammals, 33 birds, five reptiles, and four amphibians) were found on prairie dog colonies. The ecological relationships between prairie dogs and associated vertebrate predator species and the history of prairie dog control in Wyoming are discussed.
One of the fastest growing areas of natural gas production is coal bed methane (CBM) due to the large monetary returns and increased demand for energy from consumers. The Powder River Basin, Wyoming is one of the most rapidly expanding areas of CBM development with projections of the establishment of up to 50,000 wells. CBM disturbances may make the native ecosystem more susceptible to invasion by non-native species, but there are few studies that have been conducted on the environmental impacts of this type of resource extraction. To evaluate the potential effects of CBM development on native plant species distribution and patterns of non-native plant invasion, 36 modified Forest Inventory and Analysis plots (each...
Bat conservation is a relatively new phenomenon in Wyoming. Before 1994, bats were not legally protected in the state. In 1994, the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission approved a nongame wildlife regulation protecting several wildlife species, including bats. In 1998, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WGFD) joined efforts with other western states to develop the Species Conservation Assessment and Conservation Strategy for the Townsend’s Big-eared Bat (Pierson and others 1999). The resulting document has served as the foundation and the guiding force behind bat conservation efforts in Wyoming. The development of the Western Bat Working Group soon followed this unprecedented proactive conservation initiative....
Colorado is the only state in Region 2 in which significant populations of Abert’s squirrels (Sciurus aberti) exist. Populations of the squirrel have fluctuated widely over the past 100 years, but the species’ viability does not appear to be threatened, nor is the species in danger of extinction at a landscape or forest level anywhere in Colorado. It is normal for the abundance of Abert’s squirrels to vary greatly and frequently due to weather conditions and food supplies. Numbers change over longer periods with forest management practices that alter squirrel habitat condition. Large wildfires have eliminated squirrels and squirrel habitat over vast areas, but such losses do not threaten the species’ viability in...
FEIS summarizes and synthesizes research about living organisms in the United States—their biology, ecology, and relationship to fire.
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Abstract: "Oil and natural gas development in the Intermountain West region of North America has expanded over the last 2 decades, primarily within sagebrush dominated landscapes. Although the effects of energy development on high-profile game species such as the greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) have been documented, studies examining responses of non-game birds are lacking. Simultaneously, many songbirds that breed within sagebrush steppe habitats have shown range-wide population declines that are likely due to widespread habitat loss and alteration. We evaluated songbird abundance and species richness across gradients of oil and natural gas development intensity, as indexed by well density, at 3...
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Welcome to NatureServe Explorer, an authoritative source for information on more than 70,000 plants, animals, and ecosystems of the United States and Canada. Explorer includes particularly in-depth coverage for rare and endangered species.
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The ecological integrity of Sagebrush (Artemisia spp.) ecosystems in the Intermountain West (U.S.A.) has been diminished by synergistic relationships among human activities, spread of invasive plants, and altered disturbance regimes. An aggressive effort to restore Sagebrush habitats is necessary if we are to stabilize or improve current habitat trajectories and reverse declining population trends of dependent wildlife. Existing economic resources, technical impediments, and logistic difficulties limit our efforts to a fraction of the extensive area undergoing fragmentation, degradation, and loss. We prioritized landscapes for restoring Sagebrush habitats within the intermountain western region of the United States...
Modification of landscapes due to energy development may alter both habitat use and vital rates of sensitive wildlife species. Greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) in the Powder River Basin (PRB) of Wyoming and Montana, USA, have experienced rapid, widespread changes to their habitat due to recent coal-bed natural gas (CBNG) development. We analyzed lek-count, habitat, and infrastructure data to assess how CBNG development and other landscape features influenced trends in the numbers of male sage-grouse observed and persistence of leks in the PRB. From 2001 to 2005, the number of males observed on leks in CBNG fields declined more rapidly than leks outside of CBNG. Of leks active in 1997 or later, only...
This cooperative effort by USDA Forest Service Research and the National Forest System assesses the state of knowledge related to the conservation status of four forest carnivores in the western United States: American marten, fisher, lynx, and wolverine. The conservation assessment reviews the biology and ecology of these species. It also discusses management considerations stemming from what is known and identifies information needed. Overall, we found huge knowledge gaps that make it difficult to evaluate the species' conservation status. In the western United States, the forest carnivores in this assessment are limited to boreal forest ecosystems. These forests are characterized by extensive landscapes with...
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Contains ca 9000 points representing Wyoming collection sites for plant specimens in the collections of the Rocky Mountain Herbarium (RM). The point coverage is tied to a database of about 190,000 records representing about 1/4 of the holdings of the RM. Collection dates for these records range from the 1860's to 1997, and collections sites are located in general to the nearest section, although the locations of most sites are at best approximate.
The contribution of roads to forest fragmentation has not been adequately analyzed. We quantified fragmentation due to roads in a 30,213-ha section of the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest in sout heastern Wyoming with several indices of landscape structure using a geographic information system. The number of patches, mean patch area, mean interior area, mean area of edge influence, mean patch perimeter, total perimeter, and mean patch shape identified patch- and edge-related landscape changes. Shannon-Wiener diversity, dominance, contagion, contrast, and angular second moment indicated effects on landscape diversity and texture. Roads added to forest fragmentation more than clearcuts by dissecting large patches...
Degradation, fragmentation, and loss of native sagebrush (Artemisia spp.) landscapes have imperiled these habitats and their associated avifauna. Historically, this vast piece of the Western landscape has been undervalued: even though more than 70% of all remaining sagebrush habitat in the United States is publicly owned, <3% of it is protected as federal reserves or national parks. We review the threats facing birds in sagebrush habitats to emphasize the urgency for conservation and research actions, and synthesize existing information that forms the foundation for recommended research directions. Management and conservation of birds in sagebrush habitats will require more research into four major topics: (1) identification...
Detailed empirical models predicting both species occurrence and fitness across a landscape are necessary to understand processes related to population persistence. Failure to consider both occurrence and fitness may result in incorrect assessments of habitat importance leading to inappropriate management strategies. We took a two-stage approach to identifying critical nesting and brood-rearing habitat for the endangered Greater Sage-Grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) in Alberta at a landscape scale. First, we used logistic regression to develop spatial models predicting the relative probability of use (occurrence) for Sage-Grouse nests and broods. Secondly, we used Cox proportional hazards survival models to identify...
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 greater sage-grouse and their habitats have resulted in petitions to list greater sage-grouse under the Endangered Species Act. In this report, we assessed the ecological status and potential factors that influenced greater sage-grouse and sagebrush habitats across their entire distribution. We used a large-scale...
Sagebrush (Artemisia spp.) steppe was once a dominant feature of the landscape in western North America covering at least 243 million acres (60 million ha) (Beetle 1960, Vale 1975) in 16 states and 3 provinces. Most of this vast expanse has been altered by human activity. Estimates of complete loss of sagebrush-dominated areas exceed 50 % (Schneegas 1967, Braun et al. 1976, Braun 1998). The remaining sagebrush steppe has been markedly altered through treatments to benefit livestock grazing including livestock grazing as a treatment, fragmentation (roads, power lines and other structures, pipelines, reservoirs, fences, etc.), and degradation (Braun 1998). More recently, urban expansion as well as development of housing...


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