Abstract Title

Effects of Juniper Removal on the Dietary Quality of Sagebrush and Sage-grouse Population Dynamics

Abstract

The spread of juniper throughout sagebrush habitats has increased concern regarding effects of juniper encroachment into sage-grouse habitat and subsequent effects on sage-grouse dynamics. Projects focused on the removal of juniper from critical habitat areas for sage-grouse are becoming a common management practice with only minimal effort devoted to how juniper removal influences the quality of those treated lands. We seek to understand the effect juniper removal has on dietary quality of sagebrush (Artemisia spp). We hypothesized that removal of juniper would decrease concentrations of chemical defenses in remaining mountain big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentate vasyana) and low sagebrush (A. arbuscula) due to lower competition for soil nutrients and water. To test this, we compared concentrations of total phenolics and total coumarins (a subclass of phenolics) between three treatments: 1. Cut (juniper had been cut from sagebrush habitat), 2. No cut (juniper was left intact in sagebrush habitat), 3. No juniper (juniper did not co-exist in sagebrush habitat). Removal of the juniper did effect the secondary compounds of sagebrush. This provides a better understanding of how juniper treatments within the sagebrush environment may influence the dietary quality of sagebrush for sage-grouse and other wildlife.

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Effects of Juniper Removal on the Dietary Quality of Sagebrush and Sage-grouse Population Dynamics

The spread of juniper throughout sagebrush habitats has increased concern regarding effects of juniper encroachment into sage-grouse habitat and subsequent effects on sage-grouse dynamics. Projects focused on the removal of juniper from critical habitat areas for sage-grouse are becoming a common management practice with only minimal effort devoted to how juniper removal influences the quality of those treated lands. We seek to understand the effect juniper removal has on dietary quality of sagebrush (Artemisia spp). We hypothesized that removal of juniper would decrease concentrations of chemical defenses in remaining mountain big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentate vasyana) and low sagebrush (A. arbuscula) due to lower competition for soil nutrients and water. To test this, we compared concentrations of total phenolics and total coumarins (a subclass of phenolics) between three treatments: 1. Cut (juniper had been cut from sagebrush habitat), 2. No cut (juniper was left intact in sagebrush habitat), 3. No juniper (juniper did not co-exist in sagebrush habitat). Removal of the juniper did effect the secondary compounds of sagebrush. This provides a better understanding of how juniper treatments within the sagebrush environment may influence the dietary quality of sagebrush for sage-grouse and other wildlife.