Cooperative Research Units
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Sage Grouse Connectivity & Gene Flow Modeling


August 2012 - July 2014


Problem statement:

Wildlife genetic data are often collected, but the statistical methods to analyze such data parametrically are lacking. The greater sage-grouse is a species for which genetic data are collected, but sampling efforts are typically not optimal at the range-wide scale. Improved statistical models that can be useful to guide ongoing monitoring efforts.

So What? Why this research matters:

Improved statistical models for genetic data can be useful to improve our understanding of large-scale gene flow and guide ongoing monitoring efforts.


This project is in collaboration with scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey and several western state agencies.

Research That Informs Decisions:

We developed formal parametric statistical models that allow for inference about gene flow using circuit theoretic concepts and environmental spatial data. Our new methodology guided the ongoing field data collection efforts to better understand gene flow for greater sage-grouse throughout the entire western U.S.

Research Products and Activities

Peer Reviewed Publications

  • Hanks, E.M. and M.B. Hooten. (2013). Circuit theory and model-based inference for landscape connectivity. Journal of the American Statistical Association, 108: 22-33.
  • Hanks, E.M., M.B. Hooten, S.A. Knick, S.J. Oyler-McCance, J.A. Ficke, T.B. Cross, and M.K. Schwartz. (2016). Latent spatial models and sampling design for landscape genetics. Annals of Applied Statistics, 10: 1041-1062.

Current Staff

Federal Staff: 3

Masters Students: 5

Phd Students: 5

Post Docs: 1

University Staff: 2

5 Year Summary

Students graduated: 16

Scientific Publications: 82

Presentations: 91



Funding Agencies

  • USGS Forest & Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center; Boise, ID


Colorado Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit Cooperators

  1. Colorado Parks and Wildlife
  2. Colorado State University
  3. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  4. U.S. Geological Survey
  5. Wildlife Management Institute