Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: Wyoming
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Wyoming Project

Influence of Energy Development and Climatic Variability on Sagebrush Songbirds

January 2017 - July 2022


Participating Agencies

  • Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies
  • WY Community Foundation
  • University of Wyoming
  • Wyoming Wildlife - The Foundation
  • US Geological Survey
  • Meg and Bert Raynes Wildlife Fund

Changing temperature and precipitation regimes, especially within arid systems such as the sagebrush steppe, are broad-scale factors that will influence landscapes in addition to other forms of physical habitat loss and fragmentation. The combined, and potentially interactive, effects of climatic conditions and habitat loss/fragmentation on wildlife species of concern, however, are unknown. Simultaneously, all three species of songbirds (Brewer’s sparrow, sagebrush sparrow, sage thrasher) that nest almost exclusively within North American sagebrush habitats have been exhibiting population declines, at least partly due to habitat changes on breeding grounds. This project leverages a large, multi-year nesting dataset of sagebrush songbirds containing over 2,000 nests, and remotely-sensed weather data to investigate the joint influence of climatic conditions and energy development on the reproductive success of sagebrush songbirds within the WLCI (Wyoming Landscape Conservation Initiative) area in western Wyoming. Project partners include the Wyoming Landscape Conservation Initiative, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies), Wyoming Wildlife- the Foundation, and the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. Information generated by the research will be used to update the Wyoming Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy and Wyoming State Wildlife Action Plan, inform Climate Vulnerability Assessments, and address informational needs articulated by the multi-agency Sagebrush Conservation Initiative.