The ties that bind the sagebrush biome: Integrating genetic connectivity into range-wide conservation of greater sage-grouse

Todd B. Cross, Jason D. Tack, David E. Naugle, Michael K. Schwartz, Kevin E. Doherty, Sara J. Oyler-Mccance, Ronald D. Pritchert, Bradley C. Fedy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Conserving genetic connectivity is fundamental to species persistence, yet rarely is made actionable into spatial planning for imperilled species. Climate change and habitat degradation have added urgency to embrace connectivity into networks of protected areas. Our two-step process integrates a network model with a functional connectivity model, to identify population centres important to maintaining genetic connectivity then to delineate those pathways most likely to facilitate connectivity thereamong for the greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus), a species of conservation concern ranging across eleven western US states and into two Canadian provinces. This replicable process yielded spatial action maps, able to be prioritized by importance to maintaining range-wide genetic connectivity. We used these maps to investigate the efficacy of 3.2 million ha designated as priority areas for conservation (PACs) to encompass functional connectivity. We discovered that PACs encompassed 41.1% of cumulative functional connectivity-twice the amount of connectivity as random-and disproportionately encompassed the highest-connectivity landscapes. Comparing spatial action maps to impedances to connectivity such as cultivation and woodland expansion allows both planning for future management and tracking outcomes from past efforts.

Original languageEnglish
Article number220437
Pages (from-to)220437
JournalRoyal Society Open Science
Volume10
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 22 2023

Keywords

  • conservation prioritization
  • functional connectivity
  • landscape resistance
  • network model
  • reserve design
  • spatial action maps

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