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Reno, NV, United States

Dilts T.E.,University of Nevada, Reno | Weisberg P.J.,University of Nevada, Reno | Yang J.,University of Nevada, Reno | Olson T.J.,University of Nevada, Reno | And 2 more authors.
Annals of the Association of American Geographers

In arid regions of the world, the conversion of native vegetation to agriculture requires the construction of an irrigation infrastructure that can include networks of ditches, reservoirs, flood control modifications, and supplemental groundwater pumping. The infrastructure required for agricultural development has cumulative and indirect effects, which alter native plant communities, in parallel with the direct effects of land use conversion to irrigated crops. Our study quantified historical land cover change over a 150-year period for the Walker River Basin of Nevada and California by comparing direct and indirect impacts of irrigated agriculture at the scale of a 10,217 km 2 watershed. We used General Land Office survey notes to reconstruct land cover at the time of settlement (1860-1910) and compared the settlement-era distribution of land cover to the current distribution. Direct conversion of natural vegetation to agricultural land uses accounted for 59 percent of total land cover change. Changes among nonagricultural vegetation included shifts from more mesic types to more xeric types and shifts from herbaceous wet meadow vegetation to woody phreatophytes, suggesting a progressive xerification. The area of meadow and wetland has experienced the most dramatic decline, with a loss of 95 percent of its former area. Our results also show Fremont cottonwood, a key riparian tree species in this region, is an order of magnitude more widely distributed within the watershed today than at the time of settlement. In contrast, areas that had riparian gallery forest at the time of settlement have seen a decline in the size and number of forest patches. © 2012 Taylor and Francis Group, LLC. Source

Sedinger J.S.,University of Nevada, Reno | White G.C.,Colorado State University | Espinosa S.,100 Valley Road | Partee E.T.,15 East 4th Street | Braun C.E.,Grouse Inc.
Journal of Wildlife Management

We used band-recovery data from 2 populations of greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus), one in Colorado, USA, and another in Nevada, USA, to examine the relationship between harvest rates and annual survival. We used a Seber parameterization to estimate parameters for both populations. We estimated the process correlation between reporting rate and annual survival using Markov chain Monte Carlo methods implemented in Program MARK. If hunting mortality is additive to other mortality factors, then the process correlation between reporting and survival rates will be negative. Annual survival estimates for adult and juvenile greater sage-grouse in Nevada were 0.42 ± 0.07 (x ̄ ± SE) for both age classes, whereas estimates of reporting rate were 0.15 ± 0.02 and 0.16 ± 0.03 for the 2 age classes, respectively. For Colorado, average reporting rates were 0.14 ± 0.016, 0.14 ± 0.010, 0.19 ± 0.014, and 0.18 ± 0.014 for adult females, adult males, juvenile females, and juvenile males, respectively. Corresponding mean annual survival estimates were 0.59 ± 0.01, 0.37 ± 0.03, 0.78 ± 0.01, and 0.64 ± 0.03. Estimated process correlation between logit-transformed reporting and survival rates for greater sage-grouse in Colorado was ρ 0.68 ± 0.26, whereas that for Nevada was ρ 0.04 ± 0.58. We found no support for an additive effect of harvest on survival in either population, although the Nevada study likely had low power. This finding will assist mangers in establishing harvest regulations and otherwise managing greater sage-grouse populations. © The Wildlife Society. Source

Coates P.S.,U.S. Geological Survey | Casazza M.L.,U.S. Geological Survey | Ricca M.A.,U.S. Geological Survey | Brussee B.E.,U.S. Geological Survey | And 8 more authors.
Journal of Applied Ecology

Predictive species distributional models are a cornerstone of wildlife conservation planning. Constructing such models requires robust underpinning science that integrates formerly disparate data types to achieve effective species management. Greater sage-grouse Centrocercus urophasianus, hereafter 'sage-grouse' populations are declining throughout sagebrush-steppe ecosystems in North America, particularly within the Great Basin, which heightens the need for novel management tools that maximize the use of available information. Herein, we improve upon existing species distribution models by combining information about sage-grouse habitat quality, distribution and abundance from multiple data sources. To measure habitat, we created spatially explicit maps depicting habitat selection indices (HSI) informed by >35 500 independent telemetry locations from >1600 sage-grouse collected over 15 years across much of the Great Basin. These indices were derived from models that accounted for selection at different spatial scales and seasons. A region-wide HSI was calculated using the HSI surfaces modelled for 12 independent subregions and then demarcated into distinct habitat quality classes. We also employed a novel index to describe landscape patterns of sage-grouse abundance and space use (AUI). The AUI is a probabilistic composite of the following: (i) breeding density patterns based on the spatial configuration of breeding leks and associated trends in male attendance; and (ii) year-round patterns of space use indexed by the decreasing probability of use with increasing distance to leks. The continuous AUI surface was then reclassified into two classes representing high and low/no use and abundance. Synthesis and applications. Using the example of sage-grouse, we demonstrate how the joint application of indices of habitat selection, abundance and space use derived from multiple data sources yields a composite map that can guide effective allocation of management intensity across multiple spatial scales. As applied to sage-grouse, the composite map identifies spatially explicit management categories within sagebrush steppe that are most critical to sustaining sage-grouse populations as well as those areas where changes in land use would likely have minimal impact. Importantly, collaborative efforts among stakeholders guide which intersections of habitat selection indices and abundance and space use classes are used to define management categories. Because sage-grouse are an umbrella species, our joint-index modelling approach can help target effective conservation for other sagebrush obligate species and can be readily applied to species in other ecosystems with similar life histories, such as central-placed breeding. © 2016 British Ecological Society. Source

Shanthalingam S.,Washington State University | Goldy A.,Washington State University | Bavananthasivam J.,Washington State University | Subramaniam R.,Washington State University | And 13 more authors.
Journal of Wildlife Diseases

Mannheimia haemolytica consistently causes severe bronchopneumonia and rapid death of bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis) under experimental conditions. However, Bibersteinia trehalosi and Pasteurella multocida have been isolated from pneumonic bighorn lung tissues more frequently than M. haemolytica by culture-based methods. We hypothesized that assays more sensitive than culture would detect M. haemolytica in pneumonic lung tissues more accurately. Therefore, our first objective was to develop a PCR assay specific for M. haemolytica and use it to determine if this organism was present in the pneumonic lungs of bighorns during the 2009-2010 outbreaks in Montana, Nevada, and Washington, USA. Mannheimia haemolytica was detected by the species-specific PCR assay in 77% of archived pneumonic lung tissues that were negative by culture. Leukotoxin-negative M. haemolytica does not cause fatal pneumonia in bighorns. Therefore, our second objective was to determine if the leukotoxin gene was also present in the lung tissues as a means of determining the leukotoxicity of M. haemolytica that were present in the lungs. The leukotoxin-specific PCR assay detected leukotoxin gene in 91%of lung tissues that were negative for M. haemolytica by culture. Mycoplasma ovipneumoniae, an organism associated with bighorn pneumonia, was detected in 65%of pneumonic bighorn lung tissues by PCR or culture. A PCR assessment of distribution of these pathogens in the nasopharynx of healthy bighorns from populations that did not experience an all-age die-off in the past 20 yr revealed that M. ovipneumoniae was present in 31%of the animals whereas leukotoxin-positive M. haemolytica was present in only 4%. Taken together, these results indicate that culture-based methods are not reliable for detection of M. haemolytica and that leukotoxin-positive M. haemolytica was a predominant etiologic agent of the pneumonia outbreaks of 2009-2010. © Wildlife Disease Association 2014. Source

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