The Greater Sage-Grouse

The Greater Sage-Grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) is the largest North American grouse species and one of only two sage-grouse species in the world. The other sage-grouse species is the Gunnison Sage-Grouse (Centrocercus minimus).

Appearance

Greater Sage-Grouse males are large ground-dwelling birds that have large white ruffs around their neck and bright yellow air sacs on their breasts. Females are slightly smaller and are mottled brown, black and white. Both males and females have long pointed tails that are dark in color with white spots. Gunnison Sage-Grouse are one-third smaller than the Greater Sage-Grouse, with males having more white spots on their tails and denser ruffs on their necks.

 

Where they live

The Greater Sage-Grouse currently occurs in 11 states- California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, Wyoming, Washington- and two Canadian provinces. Historically, the species occupied 13 states and three provinces, but habitat disturbance throughout its habitat has cut its historic range by 56%.  The Gunnison sage-grouse is located in Colorado and Utah.

The majority of Greater Sage-Grouse habitats occur on Federal surfaces totaling approximately 81.9 million acres. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) manages 52 percent of sage-grouse habitats, while the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) is responsible for management of approximately 8 percent of sage-grouse habitat. Roughly 31 percent of Greater Sage-Grouse habitat is in private ownership comprising  36.8 million acres.

Status

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service determined in 2010 that the Greater Sage-Grouse warranted protection under the Endangered Species Act, but precluded it from listing because of higher priority species. After various petitions, settlements, and scientific reports, the Greater Sage-Grouse is now designated as a candidate species with a final listing decision due in the fall of 2015. The Gunnison Sage-Grouse is on a different listing timeline, with a final listing decision due in the fall of 2014.

Appearance:

 The monarch is a large orange butterfly who's wings have prominent dark veins and two rows of white spots at the edges, and the body is dark. The wingspread ranges from 89 to 105 millimeters (about 3.5 to 4 inches). Males are bigger than females and have a visible dark spot over a vein on their hind wings.  

Where they Live:

Monarchs in northern states settle primarily in conifers and maple trees, while monarchs in the south commonly live in pecan and oak trees. Monarchs spend the winters in forests, forming clusters of butterflies in a state of diapause, which is like hibernation. The forests provide protection from wind and storms and exposure to dappled sunlight to keep the butterflies warm enough not to freeze but cool enough not to break diapause and deplete the fat reserves they need to survive the winter. In Mexico, monarchs spend the winters primarily in oyamel fir trees, and in California they cluster in gum, pine, cypress and sycamore trees.

Status:

Monarchs across North America have declined by more than 80 percent over the past 20 years. In the mid-1990s there were approximately 1 billion monarchs, but as of winter 2013-2014, the population had declined to 35 million. Monarchs are threatened by the loss of milkweed in the Midwest due to spraying of Roundup (glyphosate) on genetically modified crops that has nearly wiped out milkweed from the core of the butterfly's range. They are also threatened by sprawl, global climate change, pesticides, development of their overwintering groves in California, and logging of their overwintering grounds in Mexico.

The low monarch wintering numbers in 2013 and 2014 resulted in an April 2014 statement of shared concern by leaders of the United States, Mexico and Canada. The monarch butterfly was specifically included in the 2014 Presidential Memorandum on pollinator conservation. Additionally, the FWS is conducting a status review to determine if protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) is warranted for monarchs.