2023 Undergraduate Research Showcase

Document Type

Student Presentation

Presentation Date


Faculty Sponsor

Dr. Jennifer S. Forbey

Dr. Stephanie J. Galla


Columbian Sharp-tailed Grouse (Tympanuchus phasianellus columbianus) are the rarest of the six extant Sharp-tailed Grouse subspecies. This subspecies experienced a 90% range contraction over the last century and have been extirpated from several states (Figure 1). In Washington alone, populations that once numbered hundreds of thousands of individuals now consist of fewer than 1,000 birds. Conservation efforts—including conservation translocations and habitat management—are underway to help bolster this imperiled subspecies across their range. However, little is known about the ecology of this charismatic species and the factors that may be contributing towards higher rates of decline.

The collection of fecal pellets presents an opportunity to better understand Columbian Sharp-tailed Grouse across their range, by providing information on their diet and host ID. As a HERC Fellow in the Conservation Genetics Lab at Boise State University, I have been exploring the potential to use non-invasively collected fecal samples to understand how we can best capture different DNA types, which can be used to better inform the conservation and management of this charismatic grouse.