Umbrella Species Project

sage-grouse umbrella speciesThe umbrella species concept holds promise as a shortcut to broad-reaching wildlife management and conservation. In this project, we are assessing whether dozens of at-risk wildlife species benefit under the umbrella of sage-grouse conservation efforts in Wyoming, and why.

Wildlife managers, tasked with conserving a growing number of imperiled species, often turn to an approach known as proxy conservation.  Under this approach, managers focus their efforts on one carefully selected surrogate species, with the expectation that management actions aimed at the surrogate species will incidentally benefit multiple species of conservation interest.  An umbrella species is one form of surrogate, where the area requirements of one species (the umbrella) are used to delineate a protected area meant to benefit many species.

Wildlife managers and policy makers have implemented the Greater Sage-Grouse as an umbrella species here in the West, and Core Areas of sage-grouse breeding habitat have been designated as semi-protected areas in many western states/provinces.  While the goal of these semi-protected areas is to stave off declines in sage-grouse populations, many are hopeful that numerous species will benefit under the umbrella of sage-grouse conservation efforts.



Reports & Publications

Carlisle, J.D., D.A. Keinath, A.D. Chalfoun, and S.E. Albeke. In review. Successful application of the umbrella species concept requires consideration of reserve size and key species traits:  a test using the greater sage-grouse.

Carlisle, J.D., D.R. Stewart, and A.D. Chalfoun. In review. An invertebrate ecosystem engineer likely covered under the umbrella of sage-grouse conservation.

Gamo, R.S., J.D. Carlisle, J.L. Beck, J.A.C. Bernard, and M.E. Herget. 2013. Greater sage-grouse in Wyoming: an umbrella species for sagebrush dependent wildlife. The Wildlife Professional 7:56–59.  (link)


Jason Carlisle, Ph.D. Candidate
WY Cooperative & Wildlife Research Unit
Dept. 3166, 1000 E. University Avenue
Laramie, WY 82071
[email protected]
office: (307) 766-2091

Anna Chalfoun, Ph.D.
Assistant Unit Leader
WY Cooperative Fish & Wildlife Research Unit
Dept. 3166, 1000 E. University Avenue
Laramie, WY 82071
[email protected]
lab: (307) 766-5415

Project Lead

Jason is a Ph.D. candidate in the Program in Ecology at the University of Wyoming, based in the Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit within the Department of Zoology and Physiology.


August 2008:  Core Population Areas established and associated regulations implemented for Greater Sage-Grouse in Wyoming (revised in 2010, 2011, and 2015).

August 2011:  This project begins.

Spring/Summers 2012-2013:  Field research conducted in central Wyoming.

January 2014:  Sage-grouse habitat treatments implemented in study area.

Spring/Summers 2014-2015:  Field research conducted in central Wyoming.

May 2017:  Anticipated conclusion of this project.

Funding & Partners

  • Wyoming Game and Fish Department
  • Wyoming Sage-Grouse Local Working Groups (Southwest & Wind River/Sweetwater River Basin)
  • Wyoming INBRE (IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence) Program
  • University of Wyoming Biodiversity Institute
  • Laramie Audubon Society

Project Collaborators

UW Ecosystem Science and Management:
Dr. Jeff Beck (link) & Kurt Smith (link)

Dr. Melanie Murphy (link)

WY Natural Diversity Database:
Dr. Doug Keinath (link)

WY Geographic Information Science Center:
Dr. Shannon Albeke (link)

WY Game and Fish Dept. (link):
Martin Grenier (formerly of WGFD), Tom Christiansen, Andrea Orabona, Stan Harter