Landscape Collaborative Grazing and Greater Sage Grouse Survival

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2013: $339,552.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2016
Region: Western
State: Montana
Principal Investigator:
Dr. Bok Sowell
MSU- Animal & Range Sciences

Annual Reports


  • Animals: bovine


  • Animal Production: free-range, grazing management, grazing - multispecies, range improvement, stocking rate
  • Education and Training: extension, on-farm/ranch research
  • Natural Resources/Environment: habitat enhancement, wildlife
  • Production Systems: holistic management


    We have combined three years of information for most of this report.  Average nesting success for three years was 34%.  Cattle in our study area are not grazing in sagebrush habitats frequently during the sage-grouse nesting season.  Nesting success was greatest in mountain big sagebrush (45%), less in three-tip sagebrush (30%), and lowest in basin big sagebrush (16%).  The presence of fences was the only infrastructure associated with grazing that had an effect on nest success.  Avian predators may use them as perches or mammals may use them as search corridors.  Successful nests were 250 meters further from fence lines than unsuccessful nests.  Cattle grazing appears to have little to no effect on grass utilization and sage-grouse home range size in the brood rearing stage.  Information collected over the last three years suggests management practices which maintain unfragmented blocks of mountain big sagebrush and three-tip sagebrush habitat types appear to have the greatest potential to maintain sage-grouse populations in the Centennial Valley, MT.

    Project objectives:

    Objective 1: Expand capture design to include more birds

    Objective 2: Estimate cattle grazing influences on sage-grouse nesting

    Objective 3: Estimate influence of habitat type on nesting success

    Objective 4: Estimate grazing influences on sage-grouse brood home range size

    Objective 5: Estimate the effects of grazing infrastructure on brood survival (2014-2016)

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.