Use of Molecular Tagging to Estimate Demographic Parameters in Gunnison Sage-grouse

Research Project: 

RB00CNJ.2

Project Manager: 

Sara Oyler-McCance
A male Gunnison Sage-grouse showing his feathers. Photo by Doug Ouren, USGS.
A male Gunnison Sage-grouse showing his feathers. Photo by Doug Ouren, USGS.

Successful conservation efforts for Gunnison Sage-grouse require an accurate method for inventory and monitoring population sizes. The objective of this study is to examine the feasibility of this molecular application to population size estimation of Gunnison Sage-grouse. Specifically, we are using molecular tagging methods to estimate population sizes on five different leks within the Gunnison Basin using DNA extracted from fecal pellets collected on those leks.  This analysis will compare population size estimates made using lek counts with those using molecular tagging methodologies and provide information needed to successfully monitor and manage Gunnison sage-grouse.  This research is in collaboration with Colorado Parks and Wildlife.