Cooperative Research Units
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Influence of Energy Development and Climatic Variability on Sagebrush Songbirds

Duration

January 2017 - June 2020

Narrative

Changing temperature and precipitation regimes, especially within arid systems such as the sagebrush steppe, are broad-scale factors that will influence landscapes in addition to other forms of physical habitat loss and fragmentation, such as those related to energy development. The combined, and potentially interactive, effects of climatic conditions and habitat loss/fragmentation on wildlife species of concern, however, are unknown. Simultaneously, all three species of songbirds (Brewer’s sparrow, sagebrush sparrow, sage thrasher) that nest almost exclusively within North American sagebrush habitats have been exhibiting population declines, at least partly due to habitat changes on breeding grounds. This project leverages a large, multi-year nesting dataset of sagebrush songbirds containing over 2,000 nests, and remotely-sensed weather data to investigate the joint influence of climatic conditions and energy development on the reproductive success of sagebrush songbirds within the WLCI (Wyoming Landscape Conservation Initiative) area in western Wyoming. On-going field efforts, moreover, continue to document the nesting success of sensitive species across variation in surrounding natural gas development and in relation to weather conditions. Project partners include the Wyoming Landscape Conservation Initiative, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies), Wyoming Wildlife- the Foundation, and the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. Information generated by the research will be used to update the Wyoming Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy and Wyoming State Wildlife Action Plan, inform Climate Vulnerability Assessments, and address informational needs articulated by the multi-agency Sagebrush Conservation Initiative.

 

Current Staff

Federal Staff: 3

Masters Students: 17

Phd Students: 4

Post Docs: 3

University Staff: 4

5 Year Summary

Students graduated: 19

Scientific Publications: 54

Presentations: 96

 

Personnel

Funding Agencies

  • University of Wyoming
  • US Geological Survey
  • Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies
  • Wyoming Wildlife - The Foundation

Links

Wyoming Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit Cooperators

  1. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  2. U.S. Geological Survey
  3. University of Wyoming
  4. Wildlife Management Institute
  5. Wyoming Game and Fish Department