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WSB study: Utah sage-grouse benefits from conifer removal

Cara J

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Across the greater sage-grouse’s range, conifers annually invade 60,000 acres of the bird’s sagebrush (Artemisia spp.) habitat. New research from northwestern Utah indicates that removing these trees boosts the success of the sage-grouse’s nests and broods. “They have improved productivity — greater nest and brood survival — in areas where we’ve done conifer treatments,” said Terry Messmer, co-author on the paper published in the March issue of the Wildlife Society Bulletin. “They immediately use these areas, predicated on where we put the treatment and the size of treatment.” In the mid-1990s, local landowners became concerned about declining sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) populations and convened working groups throughout Utah to determine conservation threats and strategies to increase their populations. One of the main pressures they identified in the West Box Elder Sage-grouse Management Area, where Messmer’s team conducted this study, was encroachment by pinyon (Pinus spp.) and juniper (Juniperus spp.) into sagebrush habitat due to little fire or vegetation management. In 2012, researchers began to look at how removing the trees using mechanical treatments — such as grinding them down to a mulch of wood shavings — would preserve the sagebrush understory and benefit sage-grouse by increasing the habitat available to them. They [...]


Read more: http://wildlife.org/wsb-study-utah-sage-grouse-benefits-from-conifer-removal/

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