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Melanism (dark coloration) is a condition resulting from a greater than normal expres-sion of the eumelanin pigments in the plumage (Gill 1990). The dark coloration can be advantageous to raptors by increasing the feathers’ resistance to bacterial degradation (Goldstein et al. 2004). conversely, abnormally dark pigmentation can reduce success in pairing by disguising key species-identification cues (García 2003) and decrease lifetime reproductive success by increasing mortality (krüger and lindström 2001). Polymorphism in color, of which melanism is one example, occurs in at least 3.5% of avian species worldwide and in 22% of raptors of the family Accipitridae (harriers, hawks, eagles, kites, and Old World vultures;...
This presentation aired as part of the Great Basin LCC webinar series on December 6, 2017. The presentation was given by Dr. Tamara Wall of the Desert Research InstituteOne of the challenges facing public land managers in the Great Basin is identifying adaptation strategies to increase resiliency to climate change in an area that is already struggling with profound environmental challenges. Recent efforts to understand how the Great Basin weathered past droughts and climate variability may offer insight into approaches that could work in future decades. One approach to gather this information is to understand Traditional Knowledge. Gathering this information is challenging and requires an acknowledgment that much...
The distribution of the greater sage-grouse (hereafter sage-grouse; Centrocercus urophasianus) has declined to 56% of its pre-settlement distribution (Schroeder et al. 2004) and abundance of males attending leks has decreased substantially over the past 50 years throughout the species’ range (Garton et al. 2011, Garton et al. 2015, WAFWA 2015). Livestock grazing is a common land use within sage-grouse habitat, and livestock grazing has been implicated by some experts as one of numerous factors contributing to sage-grouse population declines (Beck and Mitchell 2000, Schroeder et al. 2004). However, there are also numerous mechanisms by which livestock grazing might benefit sage-grouse (Beck and Mitchell 2000, Crawford...
The Integrated Rangeland Fire Management Strategy (hereafter Strategy, DOI 2015) outlined the need for coordinated, science-based adaptive management to achieve long-term protection, conservation, and restoration of the sagebrush (Artemisia spp.) ecosystem. A key component of this management approach is the identification of knowledge gaps that limit implementation of effective strategies to meet current management challenges. The tasks and actions identified in the Strategy address several broad topics related to management of the sagebrush ecosystem. This science plan is organized around these topics and specifically focuses on fire, invasive plant species and their effects on altering fire regimes, restoration,...
The spread and impacts of exotic species are unambiguous, global threats to many ecosystems. A prominent example is the suite of annual grasses in the Bromus genus (Bromus hereafter) that originate from Europe and Eurasia but have invaded or are invading large areas of the Western USA. This book brings a diverse, multidisciplinary group of authors together to synthesize current knowledge, research needs, and management implications for Bromus. Exotic plant invasions are multifaceted problems, and understanding and managing them requires the biological, ecological, sociological, and economic perspectives that are integrated in this book. Knowing how well information from one geographic or environmental setting can...
A genecological approach was used to explore genetic variation for survival in Artemisia tridentata (big sagebrush). Artemisia tridentata is a widespread and foundational shrub species in western North America. This species has become extremely fragmented, to the detriment of dependent wildlife, and efforts to restore it are now a land manage-ment priority. Common- garden experiments were established at three sites with seed-lings from 55 source- populations. Populations included each of the three predominant subspecies, and cytotype variations. Survival was monitored for 5 years to assess dif-ferences in survival between gardens and populations. We found evidence of adap-tive genetic variation for survival. Survival...
On August 25, 2015 speaker Matt Germino presented on his work restoring sagebrush in the Great Basin. Shrubs are ecosystem foundation species in most of the Great Basin’s landscapes. Most of the species, including sagebrush, are poorly adapted to the changes in fire and invasive pressures that are compounded by climate change. This presentation gives an overview of challenges and opportunities regarding restoration of sagebrush and blackbrush, focusing on climate adaptation, selection of seeds and achieving seeding and planting success. Results from Great Basin LCC supported research on seed selection and planting techniques are presented.
Emerging applications of ecosystem resilience and resistance concepts in sagebrush ecosystems allow managers to better predict and mitigate impacts of wildfire and invasive annual grasses. Soil temperature and moisture strongly influence the kind and amount of vegetation, and consequently, are closely tied to sagebrush ecosystem resilience and resistance (Chambers et al. 2014, 2016). Soil taxonomic temperature and moisture regimes can be used as indicators of resilience and resistance at landscape scales to depict environmental gradients in sagebrush ecosystems that range from cold/cool-moist sites to warm-dry sites. We aggregated soil survey spatial and tabular data to facilitate broad-scale analyses of resilience...
Knowing where a species is found or may be found in the future is critical to developing a successful habitat conservation plan. This quick guide reviews correlation-based and process-based species distribution models and their uses in the context of HCPs. It also addresses considerations for evaluating species distribution models, using multiple models, and working with model uncertainty. Examples are provided.
With HCPs, reserves are created as one means of mitigating take. This means they are designed to provide a target level of benefits for a particular species or set of species. This quick guide reviews approaches for designing and implementing reserves that address climate change impacts, vulnerabilities, and uncertainty. Examples are provided.
Speaker: Dr. Keirith Snyder, USDA ARS, Great Basin Rangelands Research Unit, Reno, NV The opportunistic encroachment of native pinyon and juniper trees into areas formerly dominated by sagebrush has reduced the presence of shrubs and grasses, impacting critical habitat and forage availability. Pinyon and juniper currently occupy 19 million hectares in the Intermountain West. Prior to 1860, it is estimated that 2/3 of pinyon and juniper woodlands were sagebrush communities. This presentation will give an overview of the Porter Canyon Experimental Watershed, where tree-felling treatments are being studied. Porter Canyon is located in central Nevada in the Desatoya Mountains. A network of sensors has been installed...
Although biotic responses to contemporary climate change are spatially pervasive and often reflect synergies between climate and other ecological disturbances, the relative importance of climatic factors versus habitat extent for species persistence remains poorly understood. To address this shortcoming, we performed surveys for American pikas (Ochotona princeps) at > 910 locations in 3 geographic regions of western North America during 2014 and 2015, complementing earlier modern (1994–2013) and historical (1898–1990) surveys. We sought to compare extirpation rates and the relative importance of climatic factors versus habitat area for pikas in a mainland-versus-islands framework. In each region, we found widespread...
This presentation aired as part of the Great Basin LCC webinar series on October 11, 2017. Speakers included Erica Fleishman, U.C. Davis, and Jimi Gragg, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.Description: As the distribution and abundance of non-native cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum) in the Great Basin has increased, the extent and frequency of fire in the region has increased by as much as 200%. These changes in fire regimes are associated with loss of the sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata) and native grasses and forbs in which many native animals, including Greater Sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus), breed and feed. Managers have suggested changes in fire regimes, fuels treatments and post-fire restoration with...
Bromus tectorum (cheatgrass) has widely invaded the Great Basin, U.S.A. The sporadic natural phenomenon of complete stand failure (‘die- off’) of this invader may present opportunities to restore native plants. A recent die-off in Nevada was precision-planted with seeds of the native grasses Poa secunda (Sandberg bluegrass) and Elymus elymoides (bottlebrush squirreltail), of both local and nonlocal origin, to ask: 1) Can native species be restored in recent B. tectorum die-offs? And 2) Do local and nonlocal seeds differ in performance? Additionally, we asked how litter removal and water addition affected responses. Although emergence and growth of native seeds was lower in die-off than control plots early in year...
We examined patterns of genetic variation and diversity of extant pygmy rabbit (Brachylagus idahoensis) populations across the species’ current range in Nevada and California. Our aims were to determine population genetic structure and levels of diversity across the southern portion of the species’ range. We genotyped 13 microsatellite loci from 194 fecal samples collected across 14 localities. Our Bayesian cluster analyses found 2 genetically distinct groups: 1 in the Mono Basin of California and the other encompassing all remaining Nevada Great Basin populations. Considering only the Nevada Great Basin group, we found 4 minimally divergent groups that overlap spatially with many individuals maintaining composite...
Land managers in the Great Basin are working to maintain or restore sagebrush ecosystems as climate change exacerbates existing threats. Web applications delivering climate change and climate impacts information have the potential to assist their efforts. Although many web applications containing climate information currently exist, few have been co-produced with land managers or have incorporated information specifically focused on land managers’ needs. Through surveys and interviews, we gathered detailed feedback from federal, state, and tribal sagebrush land managers in the Great Basin on climate information web applications targeting land management. We found that a) managers are searching for weather and climate...
The goal of the Northwest Basin and Range (NWBR) Synthesis project is to synthesize existing landscape planning and science and develop a shared conservation vision for stakeholders in the region. This webinar provides an overview of the NWBR Synthesis’ work to identify shared conservation priorities, including: - The Open Standards for the Practice of Conservation framework - How the NWBR is using the framework to synthesize current landscape planning and science - How experts will vet this process
Incorporating climate change into conservation and resource management planning is rapidly becoming a standard of practice, both because of mandates from above (e.g. court cases) and because planners and managers want to do a good job and avoid nasty surprises. There is much of guidance out there for climate smart conservation and planning, both generic and sector-specific. This quick guide is not intended to replicate those, nor to provide everything you need to do a climate smart HCP. The intent is to help users to:1. Understand why it’s important to “ask the climate question” when it comes to HCPs.2. Make users informed consumers of climate change information and expertise. 3. Provide a logic users can follow...
Conservation Biology Institute (CBI) has been developing web applications to centralize and serve credible and usable information that allows natural resource managers, as well as the general public, to better understand the challenges posed by on-going environmental change. In particular CBI has designed a series of climate consoles that provide natural resource managers the most recent 5th Climate Model Intercomparison Program (CMIP5) climate projections, landscape intactness, and soil sensitivity for a series of reporting units over the western United States. The publically available web sites were refined based on feedback from a variety of users. In this paper, we describe each of the tools developed as open-source...