Page Banner

United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: MANAGEMENT TECHNOLOGIES FOR ARID RANGELANDS Title: Using spatial statistics and point pattern simulations to assess the spatial dependency between greater sage-grouse and man-made features

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

Submitted to: Wildlife Society Bulletin
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: September 1, 2012
Publication Date: N/A

Interpretive Summary: The impact of expanding human populations and associated development and infrastructure on populations of Greater Sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) has been debated in the scientific literature. This is largely because traditional statistical techniques have been used to detect Sage-grouse avoidance of human-caused landscape features such as roads, powerlines, and buildings. 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 radio-telemetry locations in west-central Idaho to the locations of man-made features to determine if Sage-grouse avoided these features, thus reducing available habitat. Results indicated that Sage-grouse avoided buildings by 150 m and power transmission lines by 600 m, as their PCFs were outside the bounds of a 95% confidence envelope constructed from 1000 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.

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 radio-telemetry locations in west-central Idaho to the locations of man-made features to determine if Sage-grouse avoided these features, thus reducing available habitat. To determine significance, we compared empirical PCFs to 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, as their PCFs were outside the bounds of a 95% confidence envelope constructed from 1000 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: 12/19/2014