Location

USU Eccles Conference Center

Event Website

http://www.restoringthewest.org/

Streaming Media

Abstract

Among Earth’s most stunning, yet imperiled, biological phenomenon is Long Distance Migration. Of 17 terrestrial mammals in North America for which migration data exist, pronghorn (Antilocapra americana) of the Upper Green River Basin of western Wyoming have the most extreme movements between Argentina and central Canada and the second longest migration in the entire western hemisphere. This extensive migration approaches 400-500 km on an annual, round-trip basis, and necessitates crossing multiple jurisdictional/political boundaries and the use of four historically narrow bottlenecks (0.2 – 0.8 km) that have existed for almost 6000 years. The impressive movements by pronghorn from relatively xeric areas of the Upper Green River Basin to Grand Teton National Park are comparable with the well-known migratory treks of African wildebeest, zebras, and elephants. To manage America’s 991,479 km2 (245 million acres) of public BLM lands for such mixed uses as natural resource extraction, wildlife, and recreation requires knowledge about effects of habitat alterations. Two of North America’s largest natural gas fields occur in the southern region of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (Wyoming), an area that contains >100,000 wintering ungulates, including crucial winter range for pronghorn of Grand Teton National Park. During a 5-year period (2005–2009), we concentrated on patterns of habitat selection of pronghorn to understand how winter weather and increasing habitat loss due to gas field development impact habitat selection. Since this population is held below a food ceiling (i.e., carrying capacity) by human harvest, we expected few habitat constraints on animal movements – hence we examined fine-scale habitat use in relationship to progressive energy footprints. We used mixed-effects resource selection function models on 125 GPS-collared female pronghorn, and analyzed a comprehensive set of factors that included habitat (e.g., slope, plant cover type) and variables examining the impact of gas field infrastructure and human activity (e.g., distance to nearest road and well pad, amount of habitat loss due to conversion to a road or well pad) inside gas fields. Our RSF models demonstrate: (1) a five-fold sequential decrease in habitat patches predicted to be of high use and (2) sequential fine-scale abandonment by pronghorn of areas with the greatest habitat loss and greatest industrial footprint. The ability to detect behavioral impacts may be a better sentinel and earlier warning for burgeoning impacts of resource extraction on wildlife populations than studies focused solely on demography. Nevertheless disentangling cause and effect through the use of behavior warrants further investigation.

Jon P. Beckmann, Wildlife Conservation Society, North America Program, 301 N Willson Ave., Bozeman, MT 59715, jbeckmann@wcs.org

As a Conservation Scientist at WCS, Jon is the Connectivity Initiative Coordinator for the North America Program. He is also Principle Investigator on several projects in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE) and in other regions of North America. Jon’s current research projects include: 1) examining the impacts of natural gas development on pronghorn of western Wyoming; 2) protecting ungulate migrations in the northern Rockies by understanding and reducing wildlife-vehicle collisions; 3) an on-going 15-year study investigating and reducing human-bear conflicts along the wildland-urban interface in the Lake Tahoe Basin; 4) using detection dogs, resource selection and circuit theory modeling to examine connectivity for large carnivores in the GYE; 5) examining the impacts of the US-Mexico border fence on carnivore connectivity; and 6) understanding how human-altered environments impact mountain lion ecology in the Great Basin. Along with numerous publications, Dr. Beckmann is lead editor on a book titled Safe Passages: highways, wildlife and habitat connectivity.

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Oct 30th, 2:30 PM Oct 30th, 3:00 PM

Changes in Pronghorn Use of a Natural Gas Field in Greater Yellowstone

USU Eccles Conference Center

Among Earth’s most stunning, yet imperiled, biological phenomenon is Long Distance Migration. Of 17 terrestrial mammals in North America for which migration data exist, pronghorn (Antilocapra americana) of the Upper Green River Basin of western Wyoming have the most extreme movements between Argentina and central Canada and the second longest migration in the entire western hemisphere. This extensive migration approaches 400-500 km on an annual, round-trip basis, and necessitates crossing multiple jurisdictional/political boundaries and the use of four historically narrow bottlenecks (0.2 – 0.8 km) that have existed for almost 6000 years. The impressive movements by pronghorn from relatively xeric areas of the Upper Green River Basin to Grand Teton National Park are comparable with the well-known migratory treks of African wildebeest, zebras, and elephants. To manage America’s 991,479 km2 (245 million acres) of public BLM lands for such mixed uses as natural resource extraction, wildlife, and recreation requires knowledge about effects of habitat alterations. Two of North America’s largest natural gas fields occur in the southern region of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (Wyoming), an area that contains >100,000 wintering ungulates, including crucial winter range for pronghorn of Grand Teton National Park. During a 5-year period (2005–2009), we concentrated on patterns of habitat selection of pronghorn to understand how winter weather and increasing habitat loss due to gas field development impact habitat selection. Since this population is held below a food ceiling (i.e., carrying capacity) by human harvest, we expected few habitat constraints on animal movements – hence we examined fine-scale habitat use in relationship to progressive energy footprints. We used mixed-effects resource selection function models on 125 GPS-collared female pronghorn, and analyzed a comprehensive set of factors that included habitat (e.g., slope, plant cover type) and variables examining the impact of gas field infrastructure and human activity (e.g., distance to nearest road and well pad, amount of habitat loss due to conversion to a road or well pad) inside gas fields. Our RSF models demonstrate: (1) a five-fold sequential decrease in habitat patches predicted to be of high use and (2) sequential fine-scale abandonment by pronghorn of areas with the greatest habitat loss and greatest industrial footprint. The ability to detect behavioral impacts may be a better sentinel and earlier warning for burgeoning impacts of resource extraction on wildlife populations than studies focused solely on demography. Nevertheless disentangling cause and effect through the use of behavior warrants further investigation.

Jon P. Beckmann, Wildlife Conservation Society, North America Program, 301 N Willson Ave., Bozeman, MT 59715, jbeckmann@wcs.org

As a Conservation Scientist at WCS, Jon is the Connectivity Initiative Coordinator for the North America Program. He is also Principle Investigator on several projects in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE) and in other regions of North America. Jon’s current research projects include: 1) examining the impacts of natural gas development on pronghorn of western Wyoming; 2) protecting ungulate migrations in the northern Rockies by understanding and reducing wildlife-vehicle collisions; 3) an on-going 15-year study investigating and reducing human-bear conflicts along the wildland-urban interface in the Lake Tahoe Basin; 4) using detection dogs, resource selection and circuit theory modeling to examine connectivity for large carnivores in the GYE; 5) examining the impacts of the US-Mexico border fence on carnivore connectivity; and 6) understanding how human-altered environments impact mountain lion ecology in the Great Basin. Along with numerous publications, Dr. Beckmann is lead editor on a book titled Safe Passages: highways, wildlife and habitat connectivity.

http://digitalcommons.usu.edu/rtw/2012/october30/10