Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Wildland Resources

Department name when degree awarded

Range Science

Committee Chair(s)

Philip J. Urness


Philip J. Urness


John Malechek


Walter F. Mueggler


The biweekly diets of tame elk (Cervus canadensis nelsoni) were established on a species dry-weight basis for different habitat segments of the lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta) type, Principal species in the diets (5% or more) on each habitat segment were generally composed of preferred species. However, some highly abundant but non-preferred species took on principal dietary status, whereas some preferred species, scarce in the vegetation, contributed less than 5 percent to diets. Forbs contributed most to total consumption; grasses and sedges were the second largest contributors. Browse appeared to be of limited importance, but mushrooms had special significance in forested habitat segments. Preference changes were evident as forb species matured. Consumption rates were significantly higher in habitat segments having greater species diversity and forage density.

The time tame elk spent grazing, ruminating, lying, grooming, traveling, standing, drinking, and playing was referenced to specific habitat segments in which each activity occurred. One thousand and eight hours of individual elk activity were observed over a series of six 24-hour periods. Wet meadows, dry meadows, clearcuts. and revegetated roads were preferred as grazing sites, while mature and stagnated forests were clearly non-preferred. Wet meadows, revegetated roads, and mature forest were preferred for resting and non-grazing activities. The distribution of pellet groups deposited by tame elk was determined with reference to habitat segment and form of activity at the time of deposition. Pellet group distributions thus obtained, were strongly unrepresentative of relative time spent in various habitat segments.