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Title: Using resilience and resistance concepts to manage persistent threats to sagebrush ecosystems and greater sage-grouse

item CHAMBERS, JEANNE - Rocky Mountain Research Station
item MAESTAS, JEREMY - Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS, USDA)
item PYKE, DAVID - United State Geological Service
item Boyd, Chad
item PELLANT, MIKE - Bureau Of Land Management
item WUENSCHEL, AMARINA - Great Basin Landscape Conservation Cooperative

Submitted to: Rangeland Ecology and Management
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/6/2016
Publication Date: 1/20/2017
Citation: Chambers, J.C., Maestas, J.D., Pyke, D.A., Boyd, C.S., Pellant, M., Wuenschel, A. 2017. Using resilience and resistance concepts to manage persistent threats to sagebrush ecosystems and greater sage-grouse. Rangeland Ecology and Management. 70(7):149-164.

Interpretive Summary: Conservation of at-risk species such as greater sage-grouse has traditionally focused on removing human-caused threats but new approaches are needed to reduce negative effects of persistent ecosystem problems while restoring species habitat. We developed a strategic approach linking resilience science with species habitat requirements to address ecosystem-level threats within the context of at-risk species management. Our approach can be used to support and guide strategic allocation of conservation resources and prioritization of management actions at large spatial scales. Ecosystem-based conservation may reduce the need for regulatory protection of at-risk species, increase the effectiveness of management in addressing persistent ecologically-based threats, and expand the stakeholder base interested in addressing complex resource challenges.

Technical Abstract: Conservation of imperiled species often demands addressing a complex suite of threats that undermine species viability. Regulatory approaches, such as the US Endangered Species Act (1973), tend to focus on anthropogenic threats through adoption of policies and regulatory mechanisms. However, persistent ecosystem-based threats, such as invasive species and altered disturbance regimes, remain critical issues for most at-risk species considered to be conservation-reliant. We describe an approach for addressing persistent ecosystem threats to at-risk species based on ecological resilience and resistance concepts that is currently being used to conserve greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) and sagebrush ecosystems. The approach links biophysical indicators of ecosystem resilience and resistance with species-specific population and habitat requisites in a risk-based framework to identify priority areas for management and guide allocation of resources to manage persistent ecosystem-based threats. US federal land management and natural resource agencies have adopted this framework as a foundation for prioritizing sage-grouse conservation resources and determining effective restoration and management strategies. Because threats and strategies to address them cross-cut program areas, an integrated approach that includes wildland fire operations, postfire rehabilitation, fuels management, and habitat restoration is being used. We believe this approach is applicable to species conservation in other largely intact ecosystems with persistent, ecosystem-based threats.