Genetic recapture identifies long-distance breeding dispersal in Greater Sage-Grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus)

Todd B. Cross, David E. Naugle, John C. Carlson, Michael K. Schwartz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Dispersal can strongly influence the demographic and evolutionary trajectory of populations. For many species, little is known about dispersal, despite its importance to conservation. The Greater Sage-Grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) is a species of conservation concern that ranges across 11 western U.S. states and 2 Canadian provinces. To investigate dispersal patterns among spring breeding congregations, we examined a 21-locus microsatellite DNA dataset of 3,244 Greater Sage-Grouse sampled from 763 leks throughout Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota, USA, across 7 yr. We recaptured ∼2% of individuals, documenting 41 instances of breeding dispersal, with 7 dispersal events of >50 km, including 1 of 194 km. We identified 39 recaptures on the same lek up to 5 yr apart, which supports the longheld paradigm of philopatry in lekking species. We found no difference between the sexes in breeding dispersal distances or in the tendency to disperse vs. remain philopatric. We also documented movements within and among state-delineated priority areas of conservation importance, further supporting the need to identify movement corridors among these reserves. Our results can be used to better inform the assumptions of count-based population models and the dispersal thresholds used to model population connectivity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)155-166
Number of pages12
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2017


  • Centrocercus urophasianus
  • Greater Sage-Grouse
  • Long-distance dispersal
  • Mark-recapture
  • Microsatellite
  • Molecular genetics
  • Philopatry


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