Jeffrey L. Beck

Jeffrey L. Beck
University of Wyoming | UW · Department of Ecosystem Science and Management

PhD, Forestry, Wildlife and Range Sciences, University of Idaho
Currently investigating rangeland wildlife response to infrastructure, hunting, feral horses, and vegetation treatments.

About

132
Publications
30,460
Reads
How we measure 'reads'
A 'read' is counted each time someone views a publication summary (such as the title, abstract, and list of authors), clicks on a figure, or views or downloads the full-text. Learn more
2,899
Citations
Introduction
My research interests lie in wildlife habitat ecology and restoration ecology with a focus on restoring the functionality and structure of wildlife habitats in disturbed rangeland systems, particularly sagebrush habitats. Two general areas of emphasis my lab is pursuing are: 1. Understanding the direct and indirect impacts of anthropogenic disturbance on vertebrate species, and 2. Evaluating the efficacy of mitigation techniques and conservation practices in sagebrush habitats.
Additional affiliations
July 2018 - present
University of Wyoming
Position
  • Professor
July 2013 - June 2018
University of Wyoming
Position
  • Professor (Associate)
July 2007 - June 2013
University of Wyoming
Position
  • Research Assistant
Education
January 1998 - December 2003
University of Idaho
Field of study
  • Forestry, Wildlife and Range Sciences
May 1993 - April 1996
Brigham Young University - Provo Main Campus
Field of study
  • Wildlife and Range Resources
August 1987 - April 1993
Brigham Young University - Provo Main Campus
Field of study
  • Wildlife and Range Resources

Publications

Publications (132)
Article
Habitat loss and changing climate have direct impacts on native species but can also interact with disease pathogens to influence wildlife communities. In the North American Great Plains, black‐tailed prairie dogs (Cynomys ludovicianus) are a keystone species that create important grassland habitat for numerous species and serve as prey for predato...
Article
Many North American populations of lekking grouse have declined across their ranges, and understanding and evaluating population trajectories can assist in better managing these iconic species. Columbian Sharp-tailed Grouse (Tympanuchus phasianellus columbianus) is a subspecies of Sharp-tailed Grouse that has declined across its range in the Interm...
Article
A female's reproductive status influences her behavior which affects habitat selection and range size; however, reproduction and behavior are generally unaccounted for in habitat selection studies. Range size, daily activity, and habitat selection between reproductive states have rarely been investigated in a connected manner. We focused on brood‐r...
Technical Report
Full-text available
Migration is widespread across taxonomic groups and increasingly recognized as fundamental to maintaining abundant wildlife populations and communities. Many ungulate herds migrate across the western United States to access food and avoid harsh environmental conditions. With the advent of global positioning system (GPS) collars, researchers can des...
Article
Full-text available
Animal movement can mediate the ecological consequences of fragmentation; however, barriers such as fences, roads, and railways are becoming a pervasive threat to wildlife. Pronghorn (Antilocapra americana) habitat in western North America has been fragmented by roads, railways, and fences. Although pronghorn are sensitive to barriers, neither the...
Article
Full-text available
In the face of climate change, wind energy represents an important alternative to oil and gas extraction to meet increasing energy demands, but it has the potential to disrupt wildlife populations. Because behavioral adjustments, such as altered habitat selection, are a primary way that long‐lived species respond to novel disturbances, we evaluated...
Article
Full-text available
On the Ground •Available rangeland data, from field-measured plots to remotely sensed landscapes provide much needed information for mapping and modeling wildlife habitats. •Better integration of wildlife habitat characteristics into rangeland monitoring schemes is needed for most rangeland wildlife species at varying spatial and temporal scales....
Article
Full-text available
Hunter harvest is a potential factor contributing to population declines of sage-grouse (Centrocercus spp.). As a result, wildlife agencies throughout western North America have set increasingly more conservative harvest regulations over the past 25 years to reduce or eliminate hunter success and concomitant numbers of harvested greater (C. urophas...
Article
Full-text available
The forage maturation hypothesis (FMH) states that energy intake for ungulates is maximised when forage biomass is at intermediate levels. Nevertheless, metabolic allometry and different digestive systems suggest that resource selection should vary across ungulate species. By combining GPS relocations with remotely sensed data on forage characteris...
Article
Full-text available
Hunter harvest of greater sage-grouse ( Centrocercus urophasianus ; hereafter “sage-grouse”) has been regulated by wildlife agencies during most of the past century. Hunting season regulations were maintained with the intention of providing sustainable hunting opportunities. Sage-grouse populations oscillate over time, and population growth can be...
Article
Feral horse (Equus ferus caballus) grazing can alter arid shrubland habitat in the western United States to the detriment of sympatric wildlife species, including the greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus). To date, studies of horse-influenced habitat alteration have only occurred in a few locations and have infrequently represented gradie...
Article
Patterns in disturbance severity and time since fire can drive landscape heterogeneity that is critical to conservation; however, there is limited understanding of how wildlife interact with the spatial–temporal complexities of disturbance outcomes and at what scales. We conducted multiscale modeling of habitat selection for male and female Rocky M...
Article
Full-text available
Maladaptive habitat selection, where animals select habitat with reduced fitness potential or avoid otherwise suitable habitat, exacerbates the threat of population decline for species vulnerable from habitat loss and fragmentation. The greater sage‐grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) is a species of conservation concern for which research has ident...
Article
Full-text available
While the tendency to return to previously visited locations – termed ‘site fidelity’ – is common in animals, the cause of this behaviour is not well understood. One hypothesis is that site fidelity is shaped by an animal’s environment, such that animals living in landscapes with predictable resources have stronger site fidelity. Site fidelity may...
Article
Full-text available
Feral horse (Equus ferus caballus) populations on public rangelands in the western United States threaten forage production for livestock and wildlife habitat. Interference competition between feral horses and heterospecifics at watering sources can have negative effects on livestock and wildlife. Researchers have documented altered timing and beha...
Article
Full-text available
North American sagebrush (Artemisia spp.)‐obligate birds are experiencing steep population declines due in part to increased disturbance, mainly human‐caused, across their range. At the eastern edge of the sagebrush steppe, this issue may potentially be exacerbated because of natural disturbance by black‐tailed prairie dogs (Cynomys ludovicianus)....
Article
Species conservation requires monitoring and management that extends beyond the local population, yet studies evaluating population trends and management outcomes across the spatial range of a species remain rare. We conducted the first range-wide assessment of population trends for the iconic Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis canadensi...
Preprint
Full-text available
Habitat loss and altered disturbance regimes have led to declines in many species of grassland and sagebrush birds, including the imperiled Mountain Plover (Charadrius montanus). In certain parts of their range Mountain Plovers rely almost exclusively on black-tailed prairie dog (Cynomys ludovicianus) colonies as nesting habitat. Previous studies h...
Article
Few studies have evaluated the response of ungulate populations to wind energy development. Recent demand for wind-generated electricity coupled with a tendency for wind-energy facilities to be sited within suitable pronghorn (Antilocapra americana) winter range make this a critical issue for conservation of this icon of western North America. We e...
Article
Energy infrastructure and associated habitat loss can lead to reduced reproductive rates for a variety of species including the greater sage‐grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus). Our goal was to refine our understanding of how the physical footprint of energy development relates to sage‐grouse nest and brood survival. Our survival analyses were condi...
Article
Full-text available
Data from animals equipped with global positioning system collars have advanced our understanding of vertebrates, but this technology has rarely been employed to study feral equids. Hesitation to equip feral equids with telemetry collars in the USA can often be attributed to safety concerns stemming from one study from the 1980s, where injuries wer...
Article
Many conservation strategies promote the potential of multiple species benefitting from protection of large areas necessary for the continued viability of 1 species. One prominent strategy in western North America is Wyoming's Sage-grouse Core Area Policy, which was designed to conserve greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus; hereafter, sag...
Article
Full-text available
Human disturbance associated with energy development on winter ranges of migratory mule deer can prompt behaviors of perceived risk in areas near development. We evaluated how perceived risk affected the use of available food near development. Mule deer avoided disturbance at multiple scales, resulting in a loss of otherwise available food near dev...
Article
Treatments in big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata Nutt.) are often implemented to improve habitat conditions for species such as greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus). These treatments aimto increase the availability of forbs and invertebrates critical to juvenile and adult sage-grouse during the breeding season. However, information rega...
Article
Full-text available
The availability and quality of forage on the landscape constitute the foodscape within which animals make behavioral decisions to acquire food. Novel changes to the foodscape, such as human disturbance, can alter behavioral decisions that favor avoidance of perceived risk over food acquisition. Although behavioral changes and population declines o...
Article
Full-text available
Pronghorn (Antilocapra americana) are endemic to western North America where they occupy expanses of grassland and sagebrush (Artemisia spp.) habitats. The Red Desert region in south-central Wyoming, USA, has historically served as a stronghold for pronghorn populations, but many herds there have experienced declining population trends over the las...
Article
Full-text available
Context Burrowing mammals play a role in rangeland disturbance worldwide, enhancing habitat for certain species while negatively affecting others. However, little is known concerning effects of disturbance spatial pattern on co-occuring fauna. In the North American Great Plains, colonial black-tailed prairie dogs (Cynomys ludovicianus) may enhance...
Article
For conservation reserves to protect habitat to support viable populations, they must be effective in protecting all vital requirements; yet, it is unclear the extent that conservationists need to prioritize seasonal habitats when delineating reserves for partially migratory species. Identifying the similarity among seasonal habitats will assist co...
Article
Growth and survival of juvenile birds is nutritionally demanding, making the availability of major foods critical to population productivity. Access to nutritious foods for juveniles has important implications because poor foraging conditions during development could result in mortality, or reduced fitness in adulthood. Selection of brood-rearing h...
Article
Full-text available
Ecotones, or transitional zones between ecosystems, are often hotspots for biodiversity and targets for conservation. Where the Great Plains meet the sagebrush (Artemisia spp.) steppe, an opportunity exists to conserve habitat for the two most imperiled avian guilds in North America, grassland and shrub‐steppe birds. This ecotone creates a unique c...
Article
Ungulate migrations are assumed to stem from learning and cultural transmission of information regarding seasonal distribution of forage, but this hypothesis has not been tested empirically. We compared the migratory propensities of bighorn sheep and moose translocated into novel habitats with those of historical populations that had persisted for...
Article
Vegetation management practices have been applied worldwide to enhance habitats for a variety of wildlife species. Big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata spp.) communities, iconic to western North America, have been treated to restore herbaceous understories through chemical, mechanical, and prescribed burning practices thought to improve habitat cond...
Article
Full-text available
The ''umbrella species'' concept is a conservation strategy in which creating and managing reserve areas to meet the needs of one species is thought to benefit other species indirectly. Broad-scale habitat protections on behalf of an umbrella species are assumed to benefit co-occurring taxa, but targeted management actions to improve local habitat...
Article
Full-text available
Our understanding of the spatial ecology of feral horses (Equus ferus caballus) and burros (E. asinus) in the United States is limited. Robust location data are needed to better understand the permeability of Bureau of Land Management Herd Management Area boundaries, relative to feral horse movement patterns and home ranges. To increase our underst...
Article
The Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act (WFRHBA) of 1971 established all "unbranded or unclaimed" equids on U.S. public lands as "living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West." Today, >72,000 feral horses (Equus ferus caballus) and burros (E. asinus; WHB) live on western U.S. public rangelands. The number of WHBs exceeds the Bu...
Article
Imperiled species recovery is a high-stakes endeavor where uncertainty surrounding effectiveness of conservation actions can be an impediment to implementation at necessary scales, especially where habitat restoration is required. Gunnison sage-grouse (Centrocercus minimus) represents one such species in need of large-scale habitat restoration. It...
Article
Full-text available
Wyoming big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata Nutt. ssp. wyomingensis Beetle & Young) is the most abundant and widely distributed subspecies of big sagebrush and has been treated through chemical application, mechanical treatments, and prescribed burning in efforts thought to improve habitat conditions for species such as greater sage-grouse (Centroc...
Article
Full-text available
Pronghorn (Antilocapra americana) are an iconic wildlife species of sagebrush (Artemisia spp.) and grassland ecosystems in western North America. Over 50% of pronghorn have historically occurred in Wyoming; however, these populations have declined by nearly 30% in <2 decades, concurrent with expanding energy development and prolonged drought. Resea...
Article
Context. Inter-and intraspecific habitat partitioning is widespread across taxa, yet limited information is available on differences in intraspecific habitat selection by same-sex individuals among differing reproductive states. Understanding habitat selection by conspecifics of different reproductive states may help optimise conservation efforts,...
Article
Full-text available
Greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) occupy sagebrush (Artemisia spp.) habitats in 11 western states and 2 Canadian provinces. In September 2015, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced the listing status for sage-grouse had changed from warranted but precluded to not warranted. The primary reason cited for this change of status was...
Article
Our study aimed to delineate seasonal habitats and assess differential fitness related to migration strategy and seasonal habitat use of greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus, hereafter “sage-grouse”). In addition, we evaluated benefits gained for sage-grouse through the implementation of the Wyoming Core Area Strategy relative to protecti...
Article
Full-text available
Anthropogenic development impacts habitat use by many rangeland species including mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus). Recent policies, including Wyoming’s Sage-Grouse Executive Order, have been implemented to conserve habitat and populations of greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus). Core Areas (CAs), designated for sage-grouse conservation b...
Article
Migration is a behavioral strategy to access resources that change across a landscape. Animals must ultimately interpret cues to properly time movements that match changing resource quality. Many animals do this by responding primarily to indirect indicators of resource quality such as an internal biological clock or photoperiod. Others are heavily...
Research
Full-text available
Beck, J., K. Smith, J. Dinkins, R. S. Gamo, A. Gregory, and E. Spence. 2017. Is Wyoming’s sage-grouse core area strategy successful? Reflections (University of Wyoming College of Agriculture, Wyoming Agricultural Experiment Station research magazine) 2017:16–21.
Article
Increasing concern for environmental sustainability, the demand for domestic energy, and an impetus on reducing dependence on fossil fuels have led to substantial investment in renewable energies including wind energy over the last 2 decades. Increases in wind energy development are especially noticeable in prairie habitats with high wind capacity....
Technical Report
Full-text available
The Science Framework is intended to link the Department of the Interior’s Integrated Rangeland Fire Management Strategy with long-term strategic conservation actions in the sagebrush biome. The Science Framework provides a multiscale approach for prioritizing areas for management and determining effective management strategies within the sagebrush...
Article
Wind energy development is an emerging source of anthropogenic disturbance that could affect greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus; sage-grouse) populations. Our objective was to determine the response of male sage-grouse attending leks (lek counts) to wind energy development using a before/after– control/treatment study design. We counted...
Article
Full-text available
Greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) populations have declined across their range due to human-assisted factors driving large-scale habitat change. In response, the state of Wyoming implemented the Sage-grouse Executive Order protection policy in 2008 as a voluntary regulatory mechanism to minimize anthropogenic disturbance within define...
Article
Infrastructure associated with energy development influences hunter access and introduces disturbance activities to landscapes that can influence habitat selection and behavior of ungulates. Consequently, habitat loss and hunter access concerns must be addressed by wildlife managers as they consider management of populations of western big game spe...
Technical Report
Full-text available
Sagebrush steppe ecosystems in the United States currently (2016) occur on only about one-half of their historical land area because of changes in land use, urban growth, and degradation of land, including invasions of non-native plants. The existence of many animal species depends on the existence of sagebrush steppe habitat. The greater sage-grou...
Article
Habitat alterations may improve and expand wildlife habitats, and bolster waning wildlife populations. We used global positioning system (GPS) locations to monitor 38 bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis Shaw) that were translocated to the Seminoe Mountains, Wyoming, USA, in 2009 and 2010, and 24 bighorns captured in 2011 to investigate short-term impact...
Technical Report
Full-text available
This report provides a strategic approach developed by a Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies interagency working group for conservation of sagebrush ecosystems, Greater sage-grouse, and Gunnison sage-grouse. It uses information on (1) factors that influence sagebrush ecosystem resilience to disturbance and resistance to nonnative inva...
Article
Full-text available
Big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata Nutt.) ecosystems provide habitat for sagebrush-obligate wildlife species such as the Greater Sage-Grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus). The understory of big sagebrush plant communities is composed of grasses and forbs that are important sources of cover and food for wildlife. The grass component is well described...
Article
Full-text available
Conservation reserves established to protect important habitat for wildlife species are used world-wide as a wildlife conservation measure. Effective reserves must adequately protect year-round habitats to maintain wildlife populations. Wyoming’s Sage-Grouse Core Area policy was established to protect breeding habitats for greater sage-grouse (Cent...
Article
Predator removal has been simultaneously proposed and criticized as a mitigation measure for low reproductive rates of prey species, including greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus; hereafter " sage-grouse "). Depre-dation of sage-grouse nests can limit their productivity. In Wyoming, lethal removal of common ravens (Corvus corax: hereafte...
Article
Wild horse (Equus ferus caballus) management in western North America is an escalating concern for ecological integrity on these landscapes. Identifying potential diet overlap among horses, livestock, and wildlife will inform management decisions to optimize multiple interests. To understand dietary relationships, we conducted a quantitative synthe...