Centrocercus minimus


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Centrocercus minimus
Species Authority: Young, Braun, Oyler-McCance, Hupp & Quinn, 2000
Common Name(s):
English Gunnison Grouse , Gunnison Sage Grouse, Gunnison Grouse, Gunnison Sage-Grouse
Taxonomic Notes: Centrocercus urophasianus (Sibley and Monroe 1990, 1993) has been split into C. urophasianus and C. minimus following AOU (1998).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Endangered B2ab(i,ii,iii,v) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2012
Date Assessed: 2012-05-01
Assessor(s): BirdLife International
Reviewer(s): Butchart, S. & Symes, A.
Contributor(s): Braun, C., Martinson, W. & Young, J.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Benstead, P., Bird, J., Harding, M., Keane, A., Sharpe, C J & Wege, D.
This species qualifies as Endangered because it has a very small occupied range which is severely fragmented and declining. Habitat fragmentation is particularly concerning given that the species requires a variety of adjacent habitats. Management strategies are being implemented which aim to reverse current population declines over the next 15 years.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: Centrocercus minimus is confined to the Gunnison basin in Gunnison and Saguache counties, south-west Colorado, with small, fragmented populations in Colorado and one in south-east Utah, USA (Storch 2000, Young et al. 2000, K. Strom 2004). Historically, it presumably occurred in Arizona, Oklahoma and New Mexico (BLM 1999), but the occupied range is now less than 500 km2. The breeding population is less than 3,000 individuals (BLM 1999, Storch 2000, Rich et al. 2003, C. Braun in litt. 2005, J. R. Young in litt. 2005). There have been long-term declines in lek sites, numbers of males at leks and offspring (BLM 1999, J. R. Young in litt. 1999, Storch 2000, Young et al. 2000).

United States
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: The population is estimated to number 1,700 mature individuals, roughly equating to 2,500-2,600 individuals in total (C. Braun in litt. 2005, J. R. Young in litt. 2005).
Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Various adjacent habitats are required in the 2,300 m intermontane basin (J. R. Young in litt. 1999, Storch 2000). These differ seasonally and for age and sex classes (J. R. Young in litt. 1999). The species is totally reliant on sagebrush Artemisia spp. for seasonal cover and winter forage (Young et al. 2000). Lek sites have low vegetation with sparse shrubs, and are often surrounded by the big sagebrush-dominated plant communities required for nesting (BLM 1999). Broods are reared (May to autumn) in adjacent riparian plant communities and in mesic upland sites (BLM 1999, J. R. Young in litt. 2005). In winter, it associates with watercourses on southerly or westerly slopes and ridge tops where deep snow is less likely (BLM 1999).

Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Habitat loss, degradation and fragmentation is resulting from conversion to roads, reservoirs, livestock-grazing, hay and other crops, real estate developments, powerlines, land treatments and increased deer populations (BLM 1999, J. R. Young in litt. 1999). Many winter sites are directly threatened and being enclosed by urbanisation (Storch 2000). Severely fragmented populations have low genetic variation and the recent reintroduction of the disease West Nile virus to the species's range is a concern (J. R. Young in litt. 1999, J. R. Young in litt. 2005). Inbreeding depression appears to be occurring due to the skewed mating system at leks: six of the seven extant populations now appear to be low enough to be suffering from this (Stiver et al. 2008). Disturbance from scientific study and recreational birdwatchers may cause stress and reduced lek attendance and production (BLM 1999, C. Braun in litt. 2005, J. R. Young in litt. 2005). Severe winters and potentially droughts may represent survival bottlenecks (e.g. in 1984, less than 10% of sagebrush emerged above the snow [Storch 2000]), as may other habitat factors influencing chick survival (J. R. Young in litt. 2005). Calls to increase gas prospecting in areas of sagebrush habitat represent a potential future threat.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Conservation Actions Underway
In 1995 a working group was formed and, in 1998, a conservation plan identified over 200 actions (BLM 1999, J. R. Young in litt. 1999). By 2004 over 95% of the population was covered by local working groups' conservation plans (J. R. Young in litt. 2005). While the success of such local efforts may be controversial, hunting has ceased and significant gains have been made in land protection through conservation easements and land acquisitions (J. R. Young in litt. 2005). Current actions include lek enhancement, riparian area restoration, nest habitat treatments, improved livestock management, nest predator research, and education (J. R. Young in litt. 1999). Education measures include sponsored grouse viewing, information brochures and talks given in local schools and fairs (W. Martinson in litt. 2003). Radio-telemetry and graduate research is helping to determine winter habitat use, and lek sites have been protected (W. Martinson in litt. 2003). Hunting of the species has been stopped (C. Braun in litt. 2005, J. R. Young in litt. 2005). In 2005 state and federal employees drafted a 'Rangewide Plan' and have begun contact with local landowners to present voluntary conservation agreements (J. R. Young in litt. 2005).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Restore and improve habitat, while continuing work to prevent further loss and fragmentation. Support its listing on the Endangered Species Act. Continue population monitoring at key sites. Conduct further ecological research, focussing on survival, dispersal and habitat use at different life stages. Encourage and facilitate the implementation of local and range-wide management plans. Reduce disturbance, especially at active leks. Investigate the possibility of using translocations to augment small populations. Continue work to raise awareness of key issues among stakeholders.

Citation: BirdLife International 2012. Centrocercus minimus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015.2. <>. Downloaded on 02 September 2015.
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