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 propose to quantify the rate of infection by parasitic bird blow flies (Protocalliphora spp. and Trypocalliphora braueri) in nestlings of declining sagebrush songbirds, to determine whether parasite loads are influenced by weather patterns and/or surface disturbance associated with energy development, and to measure the effects of parasites on nestling growth and post-fledging survival. The results of our project will inform the management and conservation of declining sagebrush-obligate songbirds, all of which are WGFD Species of Greatest Conservation Need and BLM Sensitive Species in Wyoming. Sagebrush steppe is one of the most threatened habitat types in Wyoming and the North American West, and non-game wildlife comprise a key component of the biodiversity of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. This project is collaborative in nature, with funding from the University of Wyoming, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Wyoming Game and Fish Department.