Compilation and Synthesis of Sage Grouse Research Published Since Early 2015

The following story is co-authored by Steve Hanser, U.S. Geological Survey Sagebrush Ecosystem Specialist, and Gordon Toevs, Bureau of Land Management Senior Policy Advisor.

The Greater Sage-grouse has been the focus of much scientific investigation and management action over the past two decades. The 2015 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listing determination of ‘not warranted’ was in part due to a large-scale collaborative effort to develop strategies to conserve sage-grouse and their habitat, and to reduce threats to both. New scientific information augments existing knowledge and can help inform management. However, the sheer number of scientific publications can be a challenge for managers tasked with evaluating and determining the need for potential updates to existing planning documents. To assist in this process, at the request of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) led an interagency effort to review, summarize, and synthesize the scientific literature published from January 1, 2015 through January 6, 2018.

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First, USGS scientists developed an annotated bibliography using a structured search of reference databases for the search term “greater sage-grouse” and the initial list of products was refined by (1) removing duplicates, (2) excluding products that were not published as research or scientific review articles in peer-reviewed journals or as formal government technical reports, and (3) retaining only those products for which sage-grouse or their habitat was a research focus. This resulted in the inclusion of 169 published products. The contents of each product were summarized and assessed for relevance to a list of 31 management topics that included sage-grouse biology and habitat characteristics along with potential management actions, land uses, and environmental factors.

The interactive version of this annotated bibliography is searchable by topic and location, and includes links to all original publications. By using the menu option “Search By” any member of the public can utilize this database. Access this new database here. Each record contains the full citation, product summary, and management topics addressed by each product.

Second, an interagency team of scientists from the USGS, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, BLM, and representatives from state Fish and Game agencies and the Western Fish and Wildlife Agencies developed a report that synthesizes the science contained in the annotated bibliography and provides potential management implication of the science. The report, Greater sage-grouse science (2015-17)—Synthesis and potential management implications, focuses on the topics including: multiscale habitat suitability and mapping tools; discrete anthropogenic activities; diffuse activities; fire and invasive species; restoration effectiveness; population estimation and genetics. Access this report here.

This substantial body of literature has been compiled based on research explicitly related to the conservation, management, monitoring, and assessment of Greater Sage-grouse. These studies may inform planning and management actions that seek to balance conservation, economic, and social objectives and manage diverse resource uses and values across the western United States.