Sage grouse habitat use and seasonal movements in a naturally fragmented landscape, northwestern Colorado

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Hagen, Christian A.
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Sage grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) populations throughout North America have declined by at least 30% since the 1980's. Such declines have corresponded with habitat degradation caused by both natural and anthropogenic perturbations to sagebrush (Artemisia spp.) landscapes. Several populations now occur in highly fragmented and isolated habitats throughout Colorado. Future management of sage grouse will require knowledge of the seasonal requirements in fragmented landscapes. The primary goal of this study was to evaluate the ecological requirements of a small, naturally fragmented sage grouse population in northwestern Colorado. The topography of this region naturally fragmented the sagebrush habitats, thus affecting movements and habitat use. I analyzed sage grouse spatial distribution and seasonal movements (Chapter 2) to identify how this heterogeneous landscape may affect dispersion and migration. I also analyzed habitat use as it varied from the landscape to foraging site scale (Chapter 3). Radiotelemetry was used to identify movement and habitat use patterns. I provided management recommendations for this isolated population (Chapter 4) as an adaptive resource management framework, to progressively test habitat manipulations and enhancement projects. (Abstract shortened by UMI.)