Loss of nesting habitat is believed to be a factor in the decline of greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) throughout its range. Few data are available for sage-grouse in Mono County, California, USA, in the most southwestern portion of the species' range. We studied habitat selection of nesting sage-grouse in Mono County, California, from 2003 to 2005 by capturing and radiotracking females to identify nesting locations. We sampled vegetation at nest sites and randomly selected sites within 200 m of nests and within each of 5 subareas within Mono County. Nest sites were characterized by 42.4 ± 1.3% (x ¯ ± SE) shrub canopy cover, 10.5 ± 1.0 cm residual grass height, and 2.7 ± 1.0% residual grass cover. Shrub cover was the only variable found to differentiate nest sites from randomly selected sites. Unlike some other studies, we did not find understory vegetation to be important for selecting nest sites. Mean shrub cover was 38.7 ± 1.5% at random sites within 200 m of nests and 33.6 ± 1.6% at random sites at the approximate scale of home ranges, indicating that nesting females selected nesting areas that contained denser shrubs than their home range, and nest sites that contained greater shrub cover than the vicinity immediately surrounding nests. Our results suggest that managers should consider managing for greater shrub cover in Mono County than what is currently called for in other parts of sage-grouse range and that management for sage-grouse habitat may need to be tied more closely to local conditions.
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Vol. 73 • No. 8