Mapping sage-grouse fence-collision risk: Spatially explicit models for targeting conservation implementation


  • Associate Editor: Buchanan



Recent research suggested greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus; hereafter, sage-grouse) fence collision may be widespread, and fence-marking methods have been developed for reducing prairie-grouse collision in sagebrush-steppe habitats. However, research also suggested sage-grouse collision was highly variable, and managers implementing mitigation desire targeting tools to prioritize mitigation efforts as a function of risk. We fit collision-risk models using widely available covariates to a sage-grouse fence-collision data set from Idaho, USA, and developed spatially explicit versions of the top model for all known sage-grouse breeding habitats (i.e., within 3 km of leks) in 10 of 11 western states where sage-grouse are found. Our models prioritize breeding habitats for mitigation as a function of terrain ruggedness and distance to nearest lek, and suggest that a relatively small proportion of the total landscape (6–14%) in each state would result in >1 collision over a lekking season. Managers can use resulting models to prioritize fence-marking by focusing efforts on high risk landscapes. Moreover, our models provide a spatially explicit tool to efficiently target conservation investments, and exemplify the way that researchers and managers can work together to turn scientific understanding into effective conservation solutions. © The Wildlife Society, 2013