Spatial scale selection for informing species (greater sage-grouse) conservation in a changing landscape.
We demonstrate the application of a scale selection approach that jointly estimates the scale of effect and the effect of sagebrush cover on trends in population size using counts from 584 sage-grouse leks in southwestern Wyoming (2003–2019) and annual estimates of sagebrush cover from a remote sensing product. From this approach, we estimated a positive effect of mean sagebrush cover with a 95% probability that the scale of effect occurred within 5.02 km of leks. In an average year, we found that lower levels of sagebrush cover within these estimated scales could support increasing trends in sage-grouse population size when populations were small, but higher levels of sagebrush cover were needed to sustain growing populations when populations were larger. With standardized monitoring and annual estimates of vegetation from remote sensing, this scale selection approach can be applied to identify relevant scales for other populations, species, and biological responses such as demography and movement.