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JWM study: Greater sage-grouse use ‘stepping stones’ for long migration

Cara J

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About 10 years ago, researchers using VHS telemetry were surprised to find greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) traveled 240 kilometers between Saskatchewan and north central Montana — the longest documented migration of any grouse. With the newer technology of GPS collars, researchers were recently able to determine more specific information about that journey. They found that the birds were not just making one straight shot to their migratory habitats. Instead, they were using “stepping-stone” behavior, using frequent stopover sites, similar to the behavior of migratory big game populations such as mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus). That’s possible, they found, thanks in part to Montana’s conservation of sage-grouse core areas, the Bureau of Land Management’s sagebrush steppe rangelands and private land easements that protect the bird’s migratory pathways. “They’ve done a fantastic job of encompassing migratory pathways,” said Jason Tack, a wildlife biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Habitat and Population Evaluation Team (HAPET) office, and a coauthor of the recent study published in the Journal of Wildlife Management.  “Continuing to work across fences in this landscape will be critical in maintaining migration for a suite of species.” He and his colleagues captured sage-grouse on leks during their breeding season and [...]


Read more: http://wildlife.org/jwm-study-greater-sage-grouse-use-stepping-stones-for-long-migration/

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