Keeping Rangelands Resilient

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New research highlights the importance of wet mesic habitats for sage grouse and other species

Patrick Donnelly, Intermountain West Joint Venture’s Spatial Ecologist, recently published a paper titled, “Seasonal drought in North America’s sagebrush biome structures dynamic mesic resources for sage‐grouse.” Check out this fact sheet breaking down this research to its key findings and management actions.

Here’s a quick summary of the research:

  • Mesic resource productivity, as well as mesic areas’ drought-sensitivity, varies between the Great Plains, Rocky Mountains, and Great Basin regions.

  • Private land contains 68% of all mesic resources in sagebrush country, though it comprises just 40% of the total land area.

  • As water scarcity concerns deepen, collaborative whole-watershed conservation strategies will provide landscape resiliency for wildlife and livestock by protecting a diversity of mesic resources across private and public lands.

  • Sage grouse and many other species rely on a range of mesic habitats—including riparian areas, wet meadows, alfalfa fields, and productive rangelands—to sustain their populations. Landscapes with the greatest uncertainty in mesic abundance and distribution support the fewest grouse.