Gunnison sage-grouse male displaying. © Noppadol Paothong
Since the late 1970's researchers became aware that the sage-grouse in the Gunnison Basin of Colorado were unique from sage-grouse found elsewhere in most of the United States. In 1995, Drs. Clait Braun and Jessica Young proposed that the Gunnison sage-grouse was a distinct species and, along with Drs. Jerry Hupp, Sara Oyler-McCance and Tom Quinn, they published their findings in the Wilson Bulletin (Young et al. 2000), for which they were awarded the Edward's Prize for the best major article published by that journal that year. The American Ornithologist's Union recognized the Gunnison sage-grouse as a newly named species in 2000, after a review of the scientific data by the AOU Nomenclature Committee, which consists of the leading taxonomic specialists in North and Central America.