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Changes in the Distribution and Abundance of Columbian Sharp-Tailed Grouse in Washington

Category: Wildlife Research and Management - Wildlife Research

Date Published:  2000

Number of Pages: 24

Author(s): Michael A. Schroeder, David W. Hays, Maureen A. Murphy and D. John Pierce


Reprinted with Permission from Northwestern Naturalist (81: 95-103)

Columbian sharp-tailed grouse (Tympanuchus phasianellus columbianus) were historically found in shrub steppe, meadow steppe, steppe, and deciduous shrub communities throughout much of eastern Washington. The current range, consisting of 8 relatively small, isolated, populations, is less than 3% of historic range. Information collected since 1954 indicates 58% of 107 known lek complexes are currently vacant. Many of the vacant lek complexes (53%) are in areas where sharp-tailed grouse have been extirpated since 1954. Based on annual changes in number of birds counted on lek complexes, the number of sharp-tailed grouse in Washington declined by about 92% since 1954 to 858 birds in 1998. Historic and recent declines of sharp-tailed grouse appear linked to dramatic declines in quantity and quality of native habitat.