Impact of Disturbance on Sage-grouse Movement Patterns

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Anthropogenic and natural disturbance have caused habitat loss and fragmentation, leading to population declines of greater sage-grouse. USGS ecologist Steve Knick is leading a new study using GPS and cell phone technology to determine how sage-grouse move through a landscape. Data collected from conventional radio-tracking systems are not precise enough to understand how landscape features influence actual movements. However, GPS locations of sage-grouse obtained every 15 minutes, when overlaid on land cover maps, can help scientists understand how sage-grouse navigate their landscape and how far they move to avoid disturbances. The information on movement patterns gained from this study will identify how much sage-grouse habitat area is actually affected by disturbance. The study will fill a critical need for information about disturbance effects for the 2015 decision about whether to list the greater sage-grouse under the Endangered Species Act.

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Steven Knick
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