Wyoming’s sagebrush steppe ecosystem, which provides essential habitat for sage-grouse and other diverse species, also harbors rich energy reserves such as coal, natural gas, oil, uranium, and wind. At the next Draper Natural History Museum Lunchtime Expedition at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, Dr. Jeffrey L. Beck shares research that seeks to better harmonize energy extraction activities with maintaining viable wildlife populations.
The free presentation is titled Wildlife Response to Energy Development in Wyoming’s Sagebrush Steppe, and takes place Thursday, July 9 at 12:15 p.m. in the Center of the West’s Coe Auditorium. The Draper Museum’s Lunchtime Expedition series is supported in part by Sage Creek Ranch.
With wildlife habitat restoration ecology his field of study, Beck and his students focus their research on restoring the effectiveness of wildlife habitats in disturbed rangelands, sagebrush habitats in particular. They have found that while wildlife is impacted directly by energy development—through habitat loss, vehicle collisions, and birds striking structures, for example—indirect impacts to wildlife may be the more challenging consequence.
“Indirect impacts stemming from behavioral avoidance of energy field infrastructure-related activities,” says Beck, along with other factors, “form a larger and more challenging set of impacts to quantify for wildlife populations.” In his talk, Beck discusses how his research helps us better understand both direct and indirect impacts, and gives us ideas for techniques and conservation practices that may mitigate the effects of energy development activities in sagebrush habitats for wildlife.
Beck is an Associate Professor in the Department of Ecosystem Science and Management, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Wyoming. He has conducted work in forest and rangeland systems in the Great Basin, Colorado Plateau, and Sagebrush Steppe. The research Beck and his students conduct at the University of Wyoming seeks to link habitat conditions with population processes.
For more information on natural science programs and talks, explore centerofthewest.org/explore/greater-yellowstone-natural-history, or contact Draper Curatorial Assistant Bonnie Smith at [email protected] or 307-578-4078. The August 6 talk features Susan Patla, who discusses The State of the Trumpeter Swan. For the Center’s full calendar of events, visit centerofthewest.org/calendar.
Since 1917, the award-winning Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody, Wyoming, has devoted itself to sharing the story of the authentic American West. The Center is an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution. For additional information, visit centerofthewest.org or the Center’s Facebook page.