Populations of Greater Sage-Grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) have been declining throughout their range since the 1960s. Productivity, which includes production and survival of young, is often cited as a factor in these declines. We monitored radio-equipped Greater Sage-Grouse at 3 sites in western Wyoming to assess early brood-rearing habitat use (through 14 days post-hatch) and productivity. Logistic and linear regression analyses with Akaike's Information Criterion were used to evaluate early brooding habitat use and to examine relationships between productivity and vegetation, insect size and abundance, and weather parameters. Females with broods were found in areas with greater sagebrush canopy and grass cover, and fewer invertebrates compared to random areas. The number of juveniles per female (estimated from wing barrel collections during fall harvest) was positively related to the abundance of medium-length Hymenoptera and grass cover, and the proportion of females with confirmed chicks 14 days post-hatch was positively related to abundance of medium-length Coleoptera and total herbaceous cover. Although the specific parameters varied slightly, Greater Sage-Grouse productivity in Wyoming appeared to be associated with a combination of insect and herbaceous cover elements. Managing for abundant and diverse insect communities within dense protective sagebrush stands should help ensure high-quality early brood-rearing habitat and increased Greater Sage-Grouse productivity.
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Vol. 66 • No. 3