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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: MANAGEMENT TECHNOLOGIES FOR CONSERVATION OF WESTERN RANGELANDS

Location: Range Management Research

Title: Using spatial statistics and point-pattern simulations to assess the spatial dependency between greater sage-grouse and anthropogenic features

Authors
item Gillan, Jeffrey -
item Strand, Eva -
item Karl, Jason
item Reese, Kerry -
item Laninga, Tamara -

Submitted to: Wildlife Society Bulletin
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: November 4, 2012
Publication Date: May 14, 2013
Repository URL: http://handle.nal.usda.gov/10113/59326
Citation: Gillan, J., Strand, E., Karl, J.W., Reese, K., Laninga, T. 2013. Using spatial statistics and point-pattern simulations to assess the spatial depenency between greater sage-grouse and anthropogenic features. Wildlife Society Bulletin. 37(2):301-310.

Interpretive Summary: Populations of greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) have declines across their range in sagebrush-steppe ecosystems of western North America. While habitat loss due to human population growth has been a major factor in sage grouse population declines, the indirect influence of human habitat features like roads and powerlines is not well understood. We used a spatial-statistics approach to assess the effect of roads, power lines and rural buildings on sage-grouse habitat use in west-central Idaho, USA. We found that sage-grouse showed significant avoidance of buildings by 150'm and power transmission lines by 600'm. Sage-grouse exhibited no detectable avoidance of major and minor roads. The methods used here are broadly applicable in conservation biology and wildlife management to evaluate spatial relationships between species occurrence and landscape features, and our results can directly inform planning of infrastructure and other development projects in or near sage-grouse habitat.

Technical Abstract: The greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus; hereafter, sage-grouse), a candidate species for listing under the Endangered Species Act, has experienced population declines across its range in the sagebrush (Artemisia spp.) steppe ecosystems of western North America. One factor contributing to the loss of habitat is the expanding human population with associated development and infrastructure. Our objective was to use a spatial-statistical approach to assess the effect of roads, power transmission lines, and rural buildings on sage-grouse habitat use. We used the pair correlation function (PCF) spatial statistic to compare sage-grouse radiotelemetry locations in west-central Idaho, USA, to the locations of anthropogenic features to determine whether sage-grouse avoided these features, thus reducing available habitat. To determine significance, we compared empirical PCFs with Monte Carlo simulations that replicated the spatial autocorrelation of the sampled sage-grouse locations. We demonstrate the implications of selecting an appropriate null model for the spatial statistical analysis by comparing results using a spatially random and a clustered null model. Results indicated that sage-grouse avoided buildings by 150'm and power transmission lines by 600'm, because their PCFs were outside the bounds of a 95% significance envelope constructed from 1,000 iterations of a null model. Sage-grouse exhibited no detectable avoidance of major and minor roads. The methods used here are broadly applicable in conservation biology and wildlife management to evaluate spatial relationships between species occurrence and landscape features. Our results can directly inform planning of infrastructure and other development projects in or near sage-grouse habitat.

Last Modified: 11/28/2014
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