Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Landscape conservation forecasting for data-poor at-risk species on western public lands, United States.

Abstract

Managing vast federal public lands governed by multiple land use policies creates challenges when demographic data on at-risk species are lacking. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management Cedar City Field Office used this project in the Black Mountains (Utah) to inform vegetation management supporting at-risk greater sage-grouse and Utah prairie dog planning. Ecological systems were mapped from satellite remote sensing imagery and used to model species habitat suitability under two levels of management activity (custodial, preferred) and climate scenarios for historic and two global circulation models. Spatial state-and-transition models of ecological systems were simulated for all six scenarios up to 60 years while coupled with expert-developed habitat suitability indices. All ecological systems are at least moderately departed from reference conditions in 2012, whereas habitat suitability was 50.5% and 48.4% for sage-grouse and prairie dog, respectively. Management actions replaced non-native annual grasslands with perennial grasses, removed conifers, and controlled exotic forbs. The drier climate most affected ecological departure and prairie dog habitat suitability at 30 years only. Different climates influenced spatial patterns of sage-grouse habitat suitability, but nonspatial values were unchanged. Climate impacts on fire, vegetation succession, and restoration explain many results. Front-loading restoration is predicted to benefit under future drier climate.