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Characterizing Individual Variation in Resource Selection of Elk in Missouri

Research on Elk from North America

Resource selection functions (RSF) are widely applied by ecologists in quantifying space use from animal telemetry data. Inference is typically desired at the population-level. A common approach is to pool data from all telemetered animals and fit a model where coefficients at the individual level are considered random effects drawn from a population-level distribution. This technique has been shown to be valuable for understanding broad scale selection, but when the focal population is comprised of various intrinsic categories (e.g. age class) or are spatially clustered (e.g. two sub-populations occupying different areas of the landscape), valuable information may be lost by pooling data. We are investigating individual variation in resource selection among a population of elk (Cervus elaphus) introduced into the Missouri Ozarks and monitored thereafter. We are modeling elk location data collected from Global Positioning System (GPS) collars using Bayesian discrete choice RSFs fit at the level of each individual animal, and exploring the results in two ways: 1) interpretation of variability among individual RSF coefficients, and 2) examination of model selection approaches, comparing the importance of variables in predicting selection across these individuals.

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Giraffe Skin Disease

Research on Giraffe from Africa

The general trend of giraffe populations across Africa is decreasing, with a > 40% reduction rate of giraffe populations over the past 20 years. Despite this documented decline in giraffe abundance, little research has been conducted on giraffes, and this lack of knowledge is hindering the assessment of the exact conservation status of this species. Giraffe populations are not only at risk due to anthropogenic sources, but also are vulnerable to carnivore predation throughout their range. Various skin diseases have recently begun to affect giraffe populations and pose an important threat to giraffe conservation.

Broadly, the skin diseases affecting several populations of giraffe have been collectively referred to as Giraffe
Skin Disease (GSD). Such skin diseases have been observed in Murchison Falls National Park in Uganda, Serengeti, Tarangire and Manyara National Parks in northern Tanzania, and Ruaha National Park in south-central Tanzania. Some have suggested that severe GSD can lead to lower leg lameness making adult giraffes particularly vulnerable to lion predation. We are documenting the spatial configuration of GSD in Ruaha, developing an abundance estimate for giraffe in Ruaha, and documenting the proportion of the population suffering from mild, moderate, and severe GSD.

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Moose and Climate Change

Research on Moose from North America

Warming temperatures associated with global climate change have been causally linked to changes in the behavior, reproduction, distribution, and abundance of a variety of species. Moose are temperate-zone obligates and become stressed when ambient temperatures rise above certain seasonal thresholds. Climate change can decrease moose survivability and is suggested to be a factor limiting the southern geographic range of the species. Despite the obvious risk that warming temperatures associated with climate change present to the continued survival of moose, the exact influence of warming temperatures on moose movement and population viability remains poorly    understood.

We are investigating whether the connection between ambient temperature and activity/movement can be readily explored in wild moose systems to quantitatively isolate the conditions at which moose become heat stressed. Once the threshold of heat stress is appropriately established, then the influence of warming ambient temperatures on moose population viability can be evaluated.

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Bear-salmon study, 1952, Brown’s River, Uyak Bay, Kodiak Island, Alaska

DataSet on Bear, Salmon from North America

A relatively small number of unspawned salmon are taken by bear.

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2008 Fish, Reptile, and Amphibian Pond Scour Survey of Loesing Pond and Overton Bottoms Wetlands

Survey on Fish, Reptile from North America

Geospatial data referring to pond scour surveys conducted at various pond locations within the Big Muddy National Fish and Wildlife Refuge

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