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"Battle brewing over sage grouse protection"

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(Originally posted at BayWing.)

USAToday ran an article back in 2004, Battle brewing over sage grouse protection. It outlined the predicament of the sage grouse, a native upland game bird whose population is declining. Its range overlaps that of much of the energy development going on in the West, which means that conservationists are pitted against oil and gas development interests.

Diane's research concerns how noise (including the anthropogenic noise of energy development) affects sage grouse biology. The most likely place for an affect to be seen is in the leks. A lek is a place where male sage grouse congregate and put on elaborate mating displays. Female sage grouse select males at the lek, mate, and then go off to build a nest, lay eggs, and raise the young. A significant part of the sage grouse mating display is the sound that each male makes. So the research going on now seeks to characterize the sound on the leks, the sound emitted by energy development, the effect of playback of noise from energy development on a few treatment leks, and characterization of sound propagation in the sage desert habitat.