Energy development is economically important for Wyoming and the nation. Unfortunately, much development occurs in previously intact habitats that are important for wildlife, including many species listed as Species of Greatest Conservation Need by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. (Photo: Stewart Point Rig, 2003, L. Baker. Courtesy of Wyoming Outdoor Council.)

Assessment of Wildlife Vulnerability to Energy Development

With over 200 Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN) identified by Wyoming’s State Wildlife Action Plan, and energy infrastructure likely to double in the next twenty years, there are insufficient time and resources to conduct species-specific, detailed studies.  Discussions with state wildlife managers a few years ago identified the need to assess which species are apt to be threatened most by such development so research, conservation, and management can be targeted toward those species before drastic action, such as Endangered Species Act listing, becomes necessary.  The goal of the Assessment of Wildlife Vulnerability to Energy Development project (AWVED) is to prioritize Wyoming’s wildlife species relative to potential impacts from future energy development. Specific objectives of AWVED are to 1) define the Wyoming range of all terrestrial vertebrate SGCN, 2) model their potential distribution within the state, 3) quantify the extent of their exposure to energy development, and 4) assess their biological sensitivity to disturbance.

We are quantifying species’ ranges by integrating existing range maps, mapping known occurrences, and collecting input from expert review panels.  At a finer scale, we are mapping distribution within these ranges by statistically extrapolating habitat characteristics from points of known occurrence.  Potential exposure will then be quantified by examining the degree of concurrence between distribution models and spatially-explicit projections of energy development.  Species with a high proportion of their predicted habitat proximate to proposed development will receive a high exposure rank.  We will then independently rank species based on their biological sensitivity using metrics synthesized from literature linking species-specific traits to population declines from disturbance.  Ultimately, species with both high exposure to disturbance and high sensitivity to that disturbance will be recommended as priorities for further research or management action.

AWVED is jointly funded through the Wyoming Landscape Conservation Initiative of the United States Geological Survey and the State Wildlife Grants program of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.  Key collaborators include the Wyoming Natural Diversity Database, the Wyoming Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit and the Wyoming Chapter of The Nature Conservancy.


Reports & Publications

Keinath, D.A., M. J. Kauffman and G.P. Beauvais. 2008. Assessment of Wildlife Vulnerability to Energy Development (AWVED): 2008 Progress Report. September 15, 2008. View PDF

Keinath, D.A., M. Andersen, and G.P. Beauvais. 2010. Range maps for Wyoming’s Species of Greatest Conservation Need. January 19, 2010. View PDF

Keinath, D.A., M. Andersen, and G.P. Beauvais. 2010. Range and modeled distribution of Wyoming’s Species of Greatest Conservation Need. August 20, 2010. (Main Report, Appendix 2 – Environmental Data, Appendix 3 -Species Index, Appendix 4 – Amphibian Models, Appendix 5 – Bird Models, Appendix 6 – Mammals Models, Appendix 7 – Reptile Models)


Doug Keinath
Wyoming Natural Diversity Database
Berry Biodiversity Conservation Center University of Wyoming
1000 E. University Ave., Dept. 4304
Laramie, Wyoming 82071
[email protected]

Pat Anderson (Funder/Collaborator)
United States Geological Survey
Fort Collins Science Center
2150 Center Ave., Building C
Fort Collins, Colorado, 80526

Glenn Pauley and Bob Lanka (Funder/Collaborator)
Wyoming Game and Fish Department
5400 Bishop Blvd
Cheyenne, Wyoming 82006

Holly Copeland (Collaborator)
The Nature Conservancy in Wyoming
258 Main Street, Suite 200
Lander, WY 82520

Project Lead

Doug Keinath

Doug grew up in central Michigan. He received bachelor’s degrees in Engineering and Natural Resources from the University of Michigan in 1993. He then spent several years working for environmental consultants in Washington DC, where he worked closely with organizations such as USAID and the World Bank on global climate change issues.


AWVED was initiated in 2008.  Range mapping was completed in 2009 and distribution modeling was completed in 2010 (see associated reports).  Exposure analysis is ongoing, with expected completion in 2011.  Biological sensitivity analysis will begin in 2011, with expected completion in late 2012.  All reports and publications should be complete by the close of 2013.

Funding & Partners

  • Wyoming Game & Fish Department
  • United States Geological Survey – Wyoming Landscape Conservation Initiative