Date of this Version
Edmunds et al.
The scale at which analyses are performed can have an effect on model results and often one scale does not accurately describe the ecological phenomena of interest (e.g., population trends) for wide-ranging species: yet, most ecological studies are performed at a single, arbitrary scale. To best determine local and regional trends for greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) in Wyoming, USA, we modeled density-independent and -dependent population growth across multiple spatial scales relevant to management and conservation (Core Areas [habitat encompassing approximately 83% of the sage-grouse population on ~24% of surface area in Wyoming], local Working Groups [7 regional areas for which groups of local experts are tasked with implementing Wyoming’s statewide sage-grouse conservation plan at the local level], Core Area status (Core Area vs. Non-Core Area) by Working Groups, and Core Areas by Working Groups). Our goal was to determine the influence of fine-scale population trends (Core Areas) on larger-scale populations (Working Group Areas). We modeled the natural log of change in population size ( x peak M lek counts) by time to calculate the finite rate of population growth (l) for each population of interest from 1993 to 2015. We found that in general when Core Area status (Core Area vs. Non-Core Area) was investigated by Working Group Area, the 2 populations trended similarly and agreed with the overall trend of the Working Group Area. However, at the finer scale where Core Areas were analyzed separately, Core Areas within the same Working Group Area often trended differently and a few large Core Areas could influence the overall Working Group Area trend and mask trends occurring in smaller Core Areas. Relatively close fine-scale populations of sage-grouse can trend differently, indicating that large-scale trends may not accurately depict what is occurring across the landscape (e.g., local effects of gas and oil fields may be masked by increasing larger populations).