Open-File Report 2009-1016
Understanding how management practices affect wildlife is fundamental to wise decisions for conservation of public lands. Prescribed fire and grazing timing are two management tools frequently used within publicly owned sagebrush ecosystems. We conducted a variety of surveys in order to assess the impacts of grazing timing strategies (early summer before peak green-up, mid-summer at peak green-up, and late summer after peak green-up) in conjunction with prescribed fire on avian and small mammal populations in a high-elevation sagebrush ecosystem. Avian surveys resulted in a large detection sample size for three bird species: Brewer’s sparrow (Spizella breweri), horned lark (Eremophila alpestris), and vesper sparrow (Pooecetes gramineus). Brewer’s sparrows had the lowest number of detections within the mid-summer grazing treatment compared to early and late summer grazing treatments, while horned larks and vesper sparrows had higher detection frequencies within the late summer grazing treatment. Summer and fall sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) pellet counts revealed that the greatest over-winter and over-summer use by sage-grouse occurred within the early summer grazing treatment with minimal use of burn treatment areas across all grazing treatments. Deer-mice (Peromyscus maniculatus) represented approximately 90 percent of small mammals captured and were most prevalent within the mid-summer grazing treatment. Sagebrush cover was greatest within the mid-summer grazing treatment. We monitored 50 and 103 nests in 2007 and 2008, respectively. The apparent success rate for shrub-obligate nesting species was 58 percent in 2007 and 63 percent in 2008. This research will support management of sagebrush ecosystems by providing public land managers with direct comparisons of wildlife response to management regimes.
First posted February 13, 2009
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Erickson, H.J., Aldridge, C.L., Hobbs, N.T., 2008, Progress report: Stratton Ecological Research Site—An experimental approach to assess effects of various grazing treatmentson vegetation and wildlife communities across managed burns and habitat controls, U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2009-1016, 15 p.
Preliminary Results and Discussion