Sage grouse research announced

Quantifying restoration effectiveness using multi-scale habitat models: implications for sage-grouse in the Great Basin, USA  available at: http://www.esajournals.org/loi/ecsp
Questions or media inquiries should be directed to the following scientists:
Scientist Contact Information
David_A_Pyke@usgs.gov   541-758-8806             overall project Principal Investigator
Rarkle@usgs.gov               208-426-5205             lead author on the paper
Dpilliod@usgs.gov             208-426-5202              second author on the paper

Webinar
An excellent webinar was produced by the Great Northern Landscape Conservation Cooperative on March 18 available at:  http://greatnorthernlcc.org/event/519
JFSP Final Report
http://goo.gl/PrJJ9G

Research Results (Findings for the entire research project)

Generally: Post-fire seeding treatments in sagebrush shrublands generally have not created high quality habitat for sage-grouse. Of all plots seeded after fire, none met all sagebrush guidelines for breeding habitats.

Specifically:

  • Drill seeding had significantly more perennial plant cover than unseeded sites, but this relationship was dependent on average annual precipitation. Above about 28 cm drill seeding had higher perennial plan cover. Below this level, there was no significant difference between drill seeding and unseeded perennial plant cover.
  •  Seeded non-native perennial grasses contribute most of the increase in plant cover in areas with greater than 33 cm annual precipitation. If native perennial grasses were sown with non-native perennial grasses, then native grass cover did not differ between drill seeded and unseeded areas. If native grasses were sown without non-native perennial grasses, native grass cover in drill seeded areas was twice that of unseeded areas (18 vs. 9%).
  •  Native shrub cover did not differ between drill seeded and unseeded areas when included in seed mixtures. When forage kochia was included in seed mixtures, it added between 0.7 to 1.5% cover over unseeded areas, the cover increasing with elevation.
  • Aerial seeding had no significant effect in contributing additional perennial plant cover when nativity of the species was ignored, but forage kochia and non-native perennial grasses showed significant increases above the non-seeded levels. Native perennial grasses and sagebrush were not different from unseeded areas.
  • On aerial seedings, bare mineral soil cover did not differ between seeded and unseeded areas. On drill seediings, the amount of bare mineral soil was about 1.5 to 8% higher on seeded than unseeded areas. This result relates to reduction in cover of annual grasses when seedings with perennial grasses are successful.
  • Drill seedings had significantly lower cover of non-native annual Bromus sp. than unseeded areas, but this relationship depended on the elevation of the site. Aerial seedings had no significant effect on non-native annual Bromus cover compared with unseeded areas.
  • Fuel loads and most measures of fuel continuity did not differ in seeded and unseeded plots regardless of average annual precipitation and seeding method.
  • Sage-grouse occupancy was positively related to plot- and landscape-level dwarf sagebrush and big sagebrush steppe prevalence, and negatively associated with non-native grass and human development. The predicted probability of sage-grouse occupancy at burned and seeded plots was low on average and was not significantly different from burned areas that had not been seeded.