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Livestock has varying effects on sage-grouse

Cara J

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Contrary to common belief, livestock grazing may not necessarily have an adverse influence on the greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus). In a recent study, populations of the bird in Wyoming seemed to increase if grazing happened after spring plant growth peaked. “There could be a win-win for sage-grouse and livestock producers,” said Adrian Monroe, a research scientist with Colorado State University’s Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory and Department of Ecosystem Science and Sustainability, and first author on the paper in Ecological Applications. Although sage-grouse populations declined after high levels of grazing early in the growing season, Monroe said, “if that level of grazing occurs later in the season, after the peak in vegetation productivity, we found a positive response.” Biologists had theorized that livestock grazing could impact sage-grouse by reducing the grasses and forbs the species requires for nesting cover. But because of the difficulty of surveying its expansive habitat, no study had directly tied livestock management to sage-grouse populations. To investigate the relationship between grazing and populations of the bird, Monroe and his colleagues at the U.S. Geological Survey and Utah State University combed through federal grazing records from 2002 to 2012 for over 1,000 allotments throughout Wyoming. For each site, [...]


Read more: http://wildlife.org/livestock-has-varying-effects-on-sage-grouse/

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