Effects of management practices on grassland birds – Greater sage-grouse

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Keys to greater sage-grouse management are maintenance of expansive stands of sagebrush, especially varieties of big sagebrush with abundant forbs in the understory, particularly during spring; undisturbed and somewhat open sites for leks; and healthy perennial grass and forb stands intermixed with sagebrush for brood rearing. Within suitable habitats, areas should have 15–25% canopy cover of sagebrush 30–80 cm tall for nesting and 10–25% canopy cover 40–80 cm tall for brood rearing. In winter habitats, shrubs should be exposed 25–35 cm above snow and have 10–30% canopy cover exposed above snow. In nesting and brood-rearing habitats, the understory should have at least 15 percent cover of grasses and at least 10 percent cover of forbs greater than or equal to 18 cm tall. Greater sage-grouse have been reported to use habitats with 5–110 cm average vegetation height, 5–160 cm visual obstruction reading, 3–51% grass cover, 3–20% forb cover, 3–69 percent shrub cover, 7–63% sagebrush cover, 14–51% bare ground, and 0–18% litter cover. Unless otherwise noted, this account refers to habitat requirements and environmental factors affecting greater sage-grouse but not Gunnison sage-grouse. Habitats used by Gunnison sage-grouse are generally similar to habitats used by Greater Sage-Grouse, but some differences have been reported. The greater sage-grouse is a game bird and is hunted throughout most of its current range. This account does not address harvest or its effects on populations; rather, this account focuses on the effects of habitat management.

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