Moffat Co., Colorado and Sweetwater Co., Wyoming
Field data collection is complete. Data analysis and preparation of manuscripts for publication is on-going.
- Use locations of GPS males to find, verify, and count new leks
- Estimate the proportion of known leks in the population
- Estimate age-specific rates of male survival, lek attendance, and inter-lek movements during the breeding season
- Estimate detectability of males attending leks using paired double-observer ground counts
- Quantify how variation in male survival, detectability, lek attendance, inter-lek movement, and count effort affect indices and trend estimation based on standard lek-count data
- Quantify male space use around leks to inform use of lek buffers for conservation and management
Implementing effective monitoring and mitigation strategies is crucial for conserving populations of greater sage-grouse in Colorado. Lek counts are widely used as an index of abundance to monitor trends in sage-grouse populations. However, because lek counts rely on untested assumptions, how closely lek-count data track actual changes in male abundance from year to year remains unknown. Lek locations are also commonly used as surrogates to help identify and protect important sage-grouse seasonal habitats. However, the effectiveness of lek buffers for reducing disturbance to breeding male sage-grouse and the habitats they use have not been widely tested.
We deployed solar-powered, satellite-based, global-positioning-system transmitters on male greater sage-grouse and conducted double-observer counts at leks to obtain data on male survival, lek attendance, inter-lek movements, detectability, and diurnal and nocturnal space use around leks during the breeding season in and around the proposed Hiawatha Regional Energy Development project area in NW Colorado and SW Wyoming in spring from 2011-2014. These data will allow us to evaluate assumptions underlying the use of lek-count data and ultimately, to test their reliability for providing information about sage-grouse population trends. Data on space use will also allow us to evaluate whether lek buffers are effective for conserving greater sage-grouse habitat in oil and gas fields.