Grazed Rangelands Produce Sage Grouse Chicks’ Preferred Food

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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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