Grazed Rangelands Produce More Food For Sage Grouse

Study finds well-managed grazing lands supply the insects chicks need. Our latest Science to Solutions reports that the types of arthropods preferred by grassland and shrubland birds--like beetles, ants, and caterpillars--were 13% more prevalent on managed vs idled pastures. Special thanks to USDA CEAP Wildlife for funding this research.

This study comparing insect communities in grazed, rested, and idled pastures in Montana found that the types of insects that provide a critical food source for sage grouse chicks and other shrub- and grassland-dependent birds were 13 percent more prevalent on managed versus idled rangelands.  Studies show that grazing strategies that incorporate variation in grazing intensity, such as rest-rotation grazing that defers grazing certain pastures for a year or so, may be an effective tool for maintaining arthropod biodiversity on managed rangelands.

Research shows that 50 to 60 percent of the diet of one- to four-week-old sage grouse chicks is composed of insects such as beetles, ants, and caterpillars. Predatory spiders— which researchers found in abundance in idle, ungrazed pastures — eat the bugs that sage grouse need to survive and thrive.

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