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Seasonal Habitat Mapping for Greater Sage-grouse in the Parachute-Piceance-Roan Population in Northwestern Colorado
Seasonal Habitat Mapping for Greater Sage-grouse in the Parachute-Piceance-Roan Population in Northwestern Colorado

​​​​​​​Led By

Brett Walker, with Tony Apa

Study Area

Rio Blanco and Garfield counties

Project Status​​​

Completed

Research Objectives​​

  • Generate and validate resource selection function maps for breeding, summer–fall, and winter habitat for the Parachute-Piceance-Roan greater sage-grouse population
  • Identify the geographic scale at which vegetation and topographic features mos​t strongly influence habitat selection
  • Develop a quantitative tool to help prioritize seasonal habitats

Project Description

Accurately delineating fine-scale seasonal habitats is essential for effective conservation and management of local greater sage-grouse populations, particularly those experiencing rapid changes in land use associated with energy development. Multi-scale resource selection analyses allow wildlife managers to model, map, and validate seasonal habitats for specific populations at scales useful for managers. These maps in turn, provide a defensible scientific foundation on which agencies and stakeholders can make management, conservation, and mitigation decisions that simultaneously conserve sage-grouse habitat and reduce unnecessary conflict with other land uses. Conservation efforts are also more effective when managers know which specific vegetation and topographic features most strongly influence habitat use and selection, as well as the geographic scale at which those features need to be assessed and managed. State wildlife agencies also need quantitative methods for deciding which areas to prioritize based on quantitative, population-level biological goals. 

Energy development has been expanding in the Parachute-Piceance-Roan population of greater sage-grouse in western Colorado since 2000, and is projected to expand further over the next 20-30 years. The purpose of this project was to generate and validate fine-scale seasonal habitat maps using resource selection analysis of marked greater sage-grouse locations from 2006-2010, to identify the geographic scale at which vegetation and topographic features most strongly influence habitat selection, and to develop a quantitative tool to help managers prioritize seasonal habitat for this local population.

Associated publications

Walker, B. L., A. D. Apa, and K. Eichhoff. 2016. Mapping and prioritizing seasonal habitats for greater sage-grouse in northwestern Colorado. Journal of Wildlife Management 80:63-77. doi: 10.1002/jwmg.962. This is an open-access paper.