The U.S. Geological Survey in collaboration with the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management recently published “Sagebrush Ecosystem Conservation and Management: Ecoregional Assessment Tools and Models for the Wyoming Basins.”
According to USGS, the study will provide managers of sagebrush habitats in several western states with information about the distribution and habitats of 15 wildlife species.
The 133,000 square-mile ecological study area, involving most of Wyoming and parts of Montana, Colorado, Utah, and Idaho, contains about one quarter of the sagebrush ecosystem in the United States and is a stronghold for wildlife that depend to varying degrees on sagebrush for habitat. The area also is poised for rapid change because of growing interests in many forms of development, especially renewable and non-renewable energy facilities.
The species addressed in the book include birds, mammals, lizards, and insects. The variety of species’ responses to change illustrates the complexity of managing habitats for more than one species in a rapidly changing landscape.
According to the study, three species, including the greater sage-grouse, were negatively influenced by features associated with humans, such as roads, oil and gas wells, and power lines. In contrast, human-associated features were a positive influence for three species, including the pronghorn, and one species showed no measurable influence one way or the other.