Conifer removal improves sage-grouse habitat

Greater sage-grouse habitat can be improved by removing conifer trees in some areas of the Great Basin. Credit: Tom Koerner/USFWS

The removal of woodlands encroaching on sagebrush habitat in the Great Basin area could improve suitability for greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus). Researchers ran models to predict the impact of removing conifers associated with pinyon-juniper woodlands. They found that getting rid of these types of trees increased the suitable habitat for sagebrush species like greater sage-grouse by 6% to 17%. The models also helped researchers predict some of the best places to manage vegetation for providing maximum benefits to sagebrush species, without too much loss for pinyon-juniper-associated species. “Our results provide guidance for conducting vegetation management in the Great Basin while addressing the habitat needs for multiple focal species,” the study authors wrote.

Read the study at Biological Conservation.