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

Wyoming Project

Full life-cycle effects of natural gas development on sagebrush-obligate songbirds

July 2019 - December 2025


Participating Agencies

  • Wyoming Game and Fish Department
  • University of Wyoming - NPS Small Grants
  • Meg and Bert Raynes Wildlife Fund
  • University of Wyoming - Ecology Center
  • Wyoming Governor's Big Game License Coalition
  • Wyoming Game & Fish Department
  • US Geological Survey

One of the primary challenges for the management of sagebrush habitats and wildlife is the conversion and fragmentation of habitat for energy extraction. All three species of sagebrush-obligate songbirds (Brewer's sparrow, sagebrush sparrow, sage thrasher) are declining and species of concern for many state and federal agencies. Large gaps in understanding remain, moreover, about how development influences key life stages outside of the nesting period, including the post-fledging period and annual survival, and the extent to which the fidelity of birds to breeding sites may influence trends in abundance. Moreover, the migratory routes and over-wintering locations for sagebrush songbirds remain unknown, which precludes the ability to assess which life stages may be most limiting. Project cooperators include the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, and the Wyoming Landscape Conservation Initiative (USGS). Results will address vital informational gaps necessary to update species conservation plans and inform future sighting decisions.