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Covering 120 million acres across 14 western states and 3 Canadian provinces, sagebrush provides critical habitat for species such as pronghorn, mule deer, and sage-grouse – a species of conservation concern. The future of these and other species is closely tied to the future of sagebrush. Yet this important ecosystem has already been affected by fire, invasive species, land use conversion, and now, climate change. In the western U.S., temperatures are rising and precipitation patterns are changing. However, there is currently a limited ability to anticipate the impacts of climate change on sagebrush. Current methods suffer from a range of weakness that limits the reliability of results. In fact, the current uncertainty...
FY2014Although the future of sage grouse depends on the future of sagebrush, we have limited ability to anticipate impacts of climate change on sagebrush populations. Current efforts to forecast sagebrush habitat typically rely on species distribution models (SDMs), which suffer from a variety of well-known weaknesses. However, by integrating SDMs with complementary research approaches, such as historical data analysis and mechanistic models, we can provide increased confidence in projections of habitat change. Our goal is to forecast the effect of climate change on the distribution and abundance of big sagebrush in order to inform conservation planning, and sage grouse management in particular, across the Intermountain...
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The sagebrush rangelands of the Great Basin provide crucial habitat for a diversity of wildlife, including the pronghorn and the greater sage-grouse. These water-limited, highly-managed ecosystems have already been degraded by wildfires, the expansion of invasive grasses, and livestock grazing, and are expected to experience additional stress as climate and land use conditions change. Effective management of sagebrush ecosystems in the future will require the ability to understand and predict these future changes. To address this need, researchers will identify historical rates and causes of vegetation change in shrubland ecosystems, then use this information to develop potential future climate and land use scenarios...
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Livestock grazing practices are managed by private landowners and federal and state agencies across the western U.S. Increasingly, grazing strategies by these entities are incorporating conservation objectives and developing goals that include livestock production that is compatible with wildlife conservation objectives. This project evaluates the impact of conservation-oriented, rest-rotation livestock grazing and climate changes on migratory bird species associated with sagebrush habitat to better inform grazing management practices. Rest-rotation grazing management is likely to enhance important components of sagebrush, shrubland, and grassland habitat for a wide range of species, but little work has been done...
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Sagebrush steppe is one of the most widely distributed ecosystems in North America. Found in eleven western states, this important yet fragile ecosystem is dominated by sagebrush, but also contains a diversity of native shrubs, grasses, and flowering plants. It provides critical habitat for wildlife like pronghorn and threatened species such as the greater sage-grouse, and is grazed by livestock on public and private lands. However, this landscape is increasingly threatened by shifts in wildfire patterns, the spread of invasive grasses, and changing climate conditions. While sagebrush is slow to recover after fires, non-native grasses such as cheatgrass thrive in post-fire conditions and the spread of these species...
FY2015Persistent ecosystem and anthropogenic disturbances and stressors are threatening sustainability of sagebrush ecosystems in the western US, and managers and policy makers are seeking strategic, holistic approaches for species conservation and ecosystem restoration. Recent research indicates that an understanding of ecosystem resilience to disturbance and resistance to nonnative invasive species can be used to prioritize management activities across large landscapes and determine the most appropriate actions at project scales. An interagency WAFWA working group has linked this understanding with breeding habitat probabilities for Greater and Gunnison sage-grouse, and developed a habitat decision matrix for...
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Climate responses of sagebrush are needed to inform land managers of the stability and restoration of sagebrush ecosystems, which are an important but threatened habitat type. We evaluated climate responses of sagebrush using two approaches: (1) experimental manipulations of temperature and precipitation for natural plants in the field, and (2) assessment of how climate adaptation and weather have affected sagebrush seeding efforts on nearly 25 large-scale sagebrush seeding projects done over the past several decades. Experimental warming increased growth of sagebrush in high-elevation meadows in the Teton Mountains, but had marginal or no effect at lower elevations sites (near Twin Falls and Boise, Idaho, respectively)....
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Improving the quality of habitat for western big-game species, such as elk and mule deer, was identified as a priority by the Department of the Interior in 2018. Maintaining healthy herds not only supports the ecosystems where these species are found, but also the hunting and wildlife watching communities. For example, in Wyoming, big game hunting contributed over $300 million to the state’s economy in 2015. Yet as climate conditions change, the quantity, quality, and timing of vegetation available to mule deer, elk, and other ungulates, known as forage, could shift. It’s possible that these changes could have cascading impacts on the behavior and population sizes of many species. A key strategy used by managers...
FY2017This study addresses the need to develop treatments, soil amendments, and other site-preparation techniques that enhance germination, establishment, and development of healthy sagebrush communities. This study addressed the following objectives: (1) Determine whether seeded sagebrush established more frequently in fertile islands compared to burned shrub interspaces and locations where sagebrush was absent prior to the fire; (2) Determine whether the soil characteristics of sites and fertile islands within those sites influence sagebrush establishment patterns; and (3) Consider whether fertile island soil characteristics could be reporduced by manipulation post-fire soils in areas that had no pre-fire sagebrush....
FY2016Information on climate adaptation of native plants used in restoration is needed to help guide seed transfer from collection sites to restoration areas across the Great Basin. This project evaluates variation among populations planted together in common gardens of sagebrushes or bluebunch wheatgrass to achieve the goal.The need for seeds for sagebrush ecosystem restoration and rehabilitation projects has led to the transfer of seed across climate zones and hundreds of miles. Development and application of climate-based seed zones are needed to improve seeding success and return-on-investment. USGS, in collaboration with USFS, has accumulated considerable data on climate responses of key native (and cultivar)...
Categories: Data, Project; Types: Map Service, OGC WFS Layer, OGC WMS Layer, OGC WMS Service; Tags: California, California, California, Conservation Planning, Federal resource managers, All tags...
FY2014Avoiding cheatgrass dominance following tree-reduction treatments on woodland-encroached sagebrush communities is a priority for managers in the Great Basin. Perennial herbaceous and weedy annual cover have been related to site resilience after treatment and associated with soil climate regimes and site physical characteristics. Additional investigation of site characteristics associated with vegetation response will allow us to better decide which sites to treat and whether seeding is needed or not in conjunction with tree reduction treatments. Site-level planning also requires an understanding of how climate change may influence vegetation response to treatments.We propose to associate site-measured soil...


    map background search result map search result map Sagebrush Ecosystems in a Changing Climate Assessing land use practices on ecological charateristics of sagebrush ecosystems Forecasting Future Changes in Sagebrush Distribution and Abundance Forecasting Changes in Sagebrush Distribution and Abundance Under Climate Change: Integration of Spatial, Temporal, and Mechanistic Models Using Resilience and Resistance Concepts to Develop a Strategic Approach for Managing Threats to Sagebrush Ecosystems and Greater Sage-Grouse in the Eastern Portion of the Range Using Soil Climate and Geospatial Environmental Characteristics to Determine Plant Community Resilience to Fire and Fire Surrogate Treatments Evaluation of Common Gardens to provide Information on Seed Transfer Among Landscapes Microsite Soil Characteristics Influence Sagebrush Restoration Success Improving the Success of Post-Fire Adaptive Management Strategies in Sagebrush Steppe Predicting Future Forage Conditions for Elk and Mule Deer in Montana and Wyoming Identifying Historical Drivers of Vegetation Change to Inform Future Management of Federal Lands in the Northern Great Basin Identifying Historical Drivers of Vegetation Change to Inform Future Management of Federal Lands in the Northern Great Basin Sagebrush Ecosystems in a Changing Climate Predicting Future Forage Conditions for Elk and Mule Deer in Montana and Wyoming Evaluation of Common Gardens to provide Information on Seed Transfer Among Landscapes Microsite Soil Characteristics Influence Sagebrush Restoration Success Improving the Success of Post-Fire Adaptive Management Strategies in Sagebrush Steppe Using Soil Climate and Geospatial Environmental Characteristics to Determine Plant Community Resilience to Fire and Fire Surrogate Treatments Using Resilience and Resistance Concepts to Develop a Strategic Approach for Managing Threats to Sagebrush Ecosystems and Greater Sage-Grouse in the Eastern Portion of the Range Forecasting Future Changes in Sagebrush Distribution and Abundance Forecasting Changes in Sagebrush Distribution and Abundance Under Climate Change: Integration of Spatial, Temporal, and Mechanistic Models Assessing land use practices on ecological charateristics of sagebrush ecosystems