Identifying Greater Sage-Grouse source and sink habitats for conservation planning in an energy development landscape

Published on 2016-08-04T21:39:18Z (GMT) by
<p>Conserving a declining species that is facing many threats, including overlap of its habitats with energy extraction activities, depends upon identifying and prioritizing the value of the habitats that remain. In addition, habitat quality is often compromised when source habitats are lost or fragmented due to anthropogenic development. Our objective was to build an ecological model to classify and map habitat quality in terms of source or sink dynamics for Greater Sage-Grouse (<i>Centrocercus urophasianus</i>) in the Atlantic Rim Project Area (ARPA), a developing coalbed natural gas field in south-central Wyoming, USA. We used occurrence and survival modeling to evaluate relationships between environmental and anthropogenic variables at multiple spatial scales and for all female summer life stages, including nesting, brood-rearing, and non-brooding females. For each life stage, we created resource selection functions (RSFs). We weighted the RSFs and combined them to form a female summer occurrence map. We modeled survival also as a function of spatial variables for nest, brood, and adult female summer survival. Our survival models were mapped as survival probability functions individually and then combined with fixed vital rates in a fitness metric model that, when mapped, predicted habitat productivity (productivity map). Our results demonstrate a suite of environmental and anthropogenic variables at multiple scales that were predictive of occurrence and survival. We created a source–sink map by overlaying our female summer occurrence map and productivity map to predict habitats contributing to population surpluses (source habitats) or deficits (sink habitat) and low-occurrence habitats on the landscape. The source–sink map predicted that of the Sage-Grouse habitat within the ARPA, 30% was primary source, 29% was secondary source, 4% was primary sink, 6% was secondary sink, and 31% was low occurrence. Our results provide evidence that energy development and avoidance of energy infrastructure were probably reducing the amount of source habitat within the ARPA landscape. Our source–sink map provides managers with a means of prioritizing habitats for conservation planning based on source and sink dynamics. The spatial identification of high value (i.e., primary source) as well as suboptimal (i.e., primary sink) habitats allows for informed energy development to minimize effects on local wildlife populations.</p>

Cite this collection

P. Kirol, Christopher; L. Beck, Jeffrey; Huzurbazar, Snehalata V.; Holloran, Matthew J.; Miller, Scott N. (2016): Identifying Greater Sage-Grouse source and sink habitats for conservation planning in an energy development landscape. Wiley. Collection.