|Abstract or Summary
- A major goal in greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus, hereafter ‘sage-grouse’) conservation is to spend limited resources efficiently by conserving large and functioning populations. We used maximum count data from leks (n = 4,885) to delineate high abundance population centers that contain 25, 50, 75, and 100% of the known breeding population for use in conservation planning. Findings show sage-grouse breeding abundance is highly clumped from range-wide to Province and State-wide analysis scales. Breeding density areas contain 25% of the known population within 3.9% (2.92 million ha) of the species range, and 75% of birds are within 27.0% of the species range (20.4 million ha). We adopted a spatial organizational framework based on Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA) Management Zones (Connelly et al. 2004, Stiver et al. 2006) which are delineated by floristic provinces and used to group sage-grouse populations for management actions. Breeding bird abundance varies by Sage-grouse Management Zones, with Zones I, II, and IV containing 83.7% of all known sage-grouse. Zone II contains a particularly high density of birds which includes 40% of the known population and at least half of the highest density breeding areas range-wide. Despite high bird abundance in Zones I, II, and IV, maintaining current distribution of sage-grouse depends upon effective conservation in each U.S. state and Canadian Province. For example, each of the 11 states containing sage-grouse have enough breeding birds across multiple landscapes to meet the 75% breeding density threshold. Federal, state and private lands all play a role in sage-grouse conservation. On average, surface ownership within 75% breeding areas was 60.15% Federal, 33.98% privately owned, and 5.59% State lands. Diversity in surface and subsurface (e.g., mineral rights) ownership within States and Provinces will play a major role in the approach used to maintain and enhance priority populations. Maps developed here provide a vision for decision makers to spatially prioritize conservation targets, but risks and opportunities vary dramatically in each State and Province. More importantly, State and Provincial fish and wildlife agencies have insights into seasonal habitat usage and local ecology making State and Federal cooperation and communication imperative before the implementing of sage-grouse conservation actions. Users are also encouraged to contact their State game and fish agencies for similar State developed planning maps.