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

Wyoming Project

Infection rates and effects of ectoparasites on declining sagebrush songbirds

February 2022 - December 2025


Participating Agencies

  • Meg and Bert Raynes Wildlife Fund
  • Wyoming Governor's Big Game License Coalition
  • American Ornithological Society

Sagebrush steppe ecosystems throughout western North America have been converted and altered extensively by human activities, and many sagebrush-obligate species have experienced significant population declines. We are quantifying the rate of infection by parasitic bird blow flies (Protocalliphora spp. and Trypocalliphora braueri) in nestlings of declining sagebrush songbirds in relation to weather patterns and proximity to human disturbance. We also will determine the extent to which parasite loads may be contributing to songbird declines via slower nestling growth, offspring condition, rates of fledging, and post-fledging survival. The project is collaborative in nature, with funding from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, USGS (WLCI), and Wyoming Game and Fish Department. Results will inform the management and conservation of declining sagebrush-obligate songbirds for numerous state and federal management agencies, with implications for land use and effects of a changing climate.