Webinar: Modelling landscape conservation of greater sage grouse in relation to oil and gas development

Event Type: 
GNLCC Webinar
Date and Time: 
Nov 18, 2015 12:00 pm MST

Time: 12pm Mountain / 11am Pacific

Presenter: Rick Sojda, Research Professor, Department of Computer Science, Montana State University

The effects of oil and gas development on the conservation of greater sage grouse concerns wildlife managers, but the effects of development are difficult to ascertain, a situation typical where cause-effect relationships are complex, multivariate, and involve landscape perspectives. Understanding the potential effects of development on grouse first requires predicting where development is expected to occur on a landscape level.

In this webinar, I describe gathering “reasonable foreseeable development” spatial data from the USDI’s Bureau of Land Management that were available for Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming. These data were disparate across the study area, and I chronicle the GIS processes I used for standardizing the data across mapping units to establish consistent and quantitative categories. Maps will be displayed of the number of wells per township as projected in the BLM data. These data are then shown as overlays with the priority areas for conservation for greater sage grouse. Using the density of the predicted number of wells, I present a regional-scale view of where the effects of development are expected to occur. The constraints to representing this in a spatial model using GIS are also discussed.

About the presenter: Rick Sojda retired from the USGS as a Wildlife Biologist two years ago where he served as Co-Science Coordinator for the Great Northern Landscape Conservation Cooperative with Sean Finn.  His career has melded wildlife management and computer science with emphases in waterfowl, upland game birds, wetlands and soils on the wildlife side, and artificial intelligence and decision support on the computer side.

Presentation slides (PDF)


Projecting the effects of oil and gas development on wildlife in sage steppe ecosystems first requires understanding where that development is going to occur at a landscape scale. Photo credit: Sage steppe habitat, R Sojda; Inset photo: Greater sage-grouse at lek, USFWS.