The rapid pace of wind‐energy development has increased stakeholder concerns regarding the potential effects on wildlife. Locations targeted for wind‐energy development frequently overlap prairie grouse and greater sage‐grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) habitats. Research suggests that anthropogenic developments may have negative effects on these species. There is, however, no information published regarding the effect of wind‐energy development on Columbian sharp‐tailed grouse (Tympanuchus phasianellus columbianus), a subspecies that has twice been petitioned for Endangered Species Act protection. To address this need, from 2014 to 2015 we studied Columbian sharp‐tailed grouse nesting ecology across restored grasslands in eastern Idaho, USA, where a 215‐turbine wind‐energy complex had been developed. We monitored 147 nests from 135 females captured at leks 0.1–13.8 km from wind turbines. We used an information‐theoretic approach to evaluate the influence of wind‐energy infrastructure and habitat characteristics on nest‐site selection and daily nest survival. We did not detect any influence of wind‐energy infrastructure on nest‐site selection or nest survival. Nest‐site selection and daily nest survival were influenced by vegetation structure and composition measured at 2 spatial scales. Females selected nest sites with more restored grassland containing >30% forb cover within the nesting core‐use area (i.e., 60 ha around the nest) and exhibited a functional response to the availability of that land cover type. Daily nest survival was best predicted by visual obstruction at the nest site and the amount of restored grassland containing >30% forb cover within the nesting core‐use area. We recommend wildlife managers continue to implement management practices that will provide bunchgrass‐dominated grasslands with >30% forb cover in restored grasslands (e.g., Conservation Reserve Program fields) within Columbian sharp‐tailed grouse range.
Columbian sharp‐tailed grouse nesting ecology: wind energy and habitat
Title: Columbian sharp‐tailed grouse nesting ecology: wind energy and habitat
May 06, 2019
Journal: The Journal of Wildlife Management
Proett, M.; Roberts, S.; Horne, J.; Koons, D.; Messmer, T. (2019). Columbian sharp‐tailed grouse nesting ecology: wind energy and habitat. The Journal of Wildlife Management, 83(5), 1214-1225.