The Greater Sage-Grouse is North America's largest grouse, a characteristic feature of habitats dominated by big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata) in western North America. The first written accounts of this species were based on observations by the Lewis and Clark expedition in 1805, when the species was widespread in the West; its distribution and population densities have been greatly reduced because of loss of habitat to cultivation, burning, and overgrazing. Most populations face problems that may impact their long-term survival, problems that continue despite a century of conservation concern and management efforts.
The dramatic physiological and behavioral nature of the Greater Sage-Grouse has been an inspiration to a wide cross section of people, including Native Americans, naturalists, behavioral ecologists, photographers, and hunters. This species is renowned for its spectacular breeding displays, during which large numbers of males congregate on relatively small lek sites to perform a Strutting Display and to breed with females. Although research on the breeding behavior of the Greater Sage-Grouse continues (Young et al. 1994a; Gibson Gibson 1996b, Gibson 1996a), the effects of movement, habitat selection, productivity, and survival on the conservation biology of this species are the focus of most current research (Pyle and Crawford 1996, Fischer et al. 1997b, Reese and Connelly 1997, Schroeder 1997, Braun 1998, Sveum et al. 1998a).