No place like home

sage grouse fighting 1-1


IT’S ONE OF THE MOST FUNDAMENTAL rules of ecology: Each species has its niche, the unique combination of food, water, shelter, and nursery that, taken together, are home for the breed.  Without that place, the species would not exist.

As the deadline for the federal decision on whether to list the sage grouse approaches, I’ve found myself wondering about the inverse of that idea.  If a species disappears, it seems logical to conclude that its niche has also been badly damaged or destroyed.

A recent analysis of trends of sage grouse lek counts published by Dr. Edward Gorton and colleagues suggests that the numbers in many populations, including Wyoming’s, continue to decline, in spite of the fairly uninspired conservation efforts that have been made on their behalf over the last several years.  The bird’s decline is the most powerful possible indication that the wild sage is melting away as well.

The bird can’t exist without the place.  And in ecological and spiritual sense, the place won’t exist without the bird.

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