Rolling sagebrush-covered foothills may seem like an almost commonplace symbol of the American West, but the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service calls it “one of the most imperiled ecosystems in America,” threatened and fragmented by invasive species, wildfire, and development.
Loss of quality habitat has led to steep declines in the numbers of greater sage grouse, a bird that lives and breeds in the sagebrush. Because of this, many Western states are working on plans to improve and preserve the sagebrush steppe the birds rely on. Now, two new studies show that saving sagebrush can benefit more than just the grouse.