Do habitat treatments work?
Sage Grouse habitat research helps with 8th Grade Science Fair project
by Wyoming Game & Fish
February 26, 2015
It’s a question both wildlife managers and members of the public often wonder about. Each year, state and federal biologists spend a great deal of time and money to improve habitat for a variety of wildlife species, but do these habitat treatments really work?
Last summer, Pinedale Habitat Biologist Jill Randall collaborated with a young scientist, Pinedale 8th grade student Katelyn Hayward, to answer the question of whether the sage grouse habitat treatments were really benefitting sage grouse or not. The monitoring project would also serve as Hayward’s science fair project.
Her study focused on mountain big sagebrush that was being used by sage grouse as brood rearing habitat. The study was designed to determine if sage grouse use was higher in treated areas compared with adjacent untreated areas.
Hayward visited four mechanical sagebrush treatments (mowing and aerator) and conducted pellet group counts along a 1 x 50 meter belt in three paired control and disturbed locations in each treatment.
Her results indicated at most sites (n=10) the treatment had a higher count of pellet groups compared to adjacent untreated areas and at the other sites (n=2) the treatment and control pellet counts were equal.
Hayward and Randall concluded that the sagebrush treatments were working!