Examining adaptation in Gunnison Sage-grouse

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A male Gunnison Sage-grouse strutting. USGS photo.
A male Gunnison Sage-grouse strutting. USGS photo.

The satellite populations of the Gunnison Sage-grouse occupy different areas with a diversity of habitat and local environmental characteristics. With limited gene flow between populations and the potential for different selective pressures acting on each population, there is the potential for locally adapted variation. Local adaptation is important to long-term persistence of populations and pertinent to current management efforts. Pressures of climate change and land-use change differ among the populations, and any existing variation adapted to the unique pressures should be maintained within a population. We are using genomic methods to look within each population for evidence of selection correlated with environmental variation. Identifying adaptive variation can contribute to more targeted management efforts and the intentional maintenance of said variation within populations.