Submitted to: Society of Range Management
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: January 20, 2005
Publication Date: February 1, 2005
Citation: Bates, J.D., Miller, R. 2005. Are guidelines for sage grouse habitat realistic in wyoming big sagebrush communities in eastern oregon [abstract]? Society of Range Management. Paper No. 72. Technical Abstract: The Wyoming big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata ssp. wyomingensis, ARTRW8) cover type is the most extensive of the big sagebrush complex in the Intermountain West. Sage grouse habitat guidelines, based on plant cover, have recently been developed for sagebrush communities. Plant ecologists have questioned the appropriateness and applicability of these guidelines in ARTRW8 communities. There is a lack of information describing the range, variability, and potential of vegetation characteristics of ARTRW8 communities. Our objectives were to; 1) described vegetation characteristics at the stand level and develop a community classification system for the ARTRW8 alliance; and 2) compare stand level cover characteristics with sage grouse habitat cover guidelines. 107 high ecological condition sites were intensively sampled across 3 ecological provinces in eastern Oregon. Differences in plant species composition indicated that grouping ARTRW8 communities by dominant perennial grass species was appropriate. Five ARTRW8 community associations were identified. Using a strict interpretation of mesic sagebrush guidelines, none met sage grouse nesting and brood rearing habitat requirements. The main reasons for not meeting guideline requirements were 1) that tall forb (plants < 18 cm tall) cover did not equal or exceed 10% cover and/or 2) sagebrush cover did not meet minimum requirements. Arid sagebrush guidelines were more reasonable, but would need adjustment to better meet the biological potential of the ARTRW8 alliance in this region. Information from this study can be used to form guidelines that reflect the biological potential of the ARTRW8 alliance in eastern Oregon.