Finished projects

Bighorn sheep ram with a curled lip.
Photo credit: Tayler LaSharr

Proyecto de los archivos de la caza

La caza es una parte importante del manejo de la vida silvestre, pero existe preocupación sobre cómo la cosecha podría afectar el tamaño de los cuernos y las astas de las especies de ungulados con el tiempo. Este proyecto evaluó cómo cambió el tamaño de los cuernos del borrego cimarrón cazado a lo largo del tiempo e identificó los mecanismos que causaron el cambio.

Entre las 72 áreas de caza que estudiamos, el tamaño de los cuernos se mantuvo sin cambios en 44, disminuyó en 19 y de hecho aumentó en 9. Los investigadores encontraron evidencia de que los tres mecanismos causaron cambios en el tamaño de los cuernos, según el área de caza en cuestión. En menos de la mitad de las áreas de caza donde disminuyó el tamaño de los cuernos, la evidencia apuntaba a la caza como la causa del cambio evolutivo. En los otros, la nutrición y la estructura de edad cambiante parecían estar reduciendo el tamaño de los cuernos. En general, los regímenes de cosecha actuales en la mayoría de las áreas de caza no parecen estar reduciendo el tamaño de los cuernos en el borrego cimarrón.

A large female moose stands in the open sagebrush, looking directly at the camera. Her coat is thick and healthy, and the sky behind her is a clear blue.
Photo credit: Alex May

Snowy Range Moose Project

Moose have evolved to thrive in cold-weather environments of northern latitudes, but as moose distribution has expanded south in the last century, the warmer temperatures of these regions may be challenging their ability to manage heat stress. The Snowy Range Moose Project, completed in 2019, focused on how the thermal needs of moose at the southern end of their range and how they may be combatting rising temperatures behaviorally.

We found that moose select for bed sites that have cooler temperatures and are either moist or wet as compared to bed sites that were in areas that increased the risk of overheating during the day. As days got hotter, use of standing water and wet grounded bed sites increased. This project conclude that moose are behaviorally mitigating their risk of overheating by seeking out day beds that allow them to lose heat to the ground or the water they are in contact with.

Three male elk with large antlers stand on a grassy hill, morning sun glancing off their coats.
Photo credit: Tayler LaSharr

Sierra Madre Elk Project

Widespread mortality of pine trees following the bark-beetle epidemic can change the ways wildlife and people interact with these formerly intact forest habitats. Elk, for example, rely on intact conifer forests for thermal refuge and escape from predation (e.g., natural predators and human hunters), but as beetle-killed trees fall, the subsequent changes to canopy cover and understory structure can alter forage abundance, thermal cover, and locomotive costs for elk. Behavioral responses of elk to changes in forest structure may, in turn, shift how people hunt them, affecting the way we manage this highly valued species and their habitats.

We found that elk typically avoid beetle-killed conifer habitat, instead choosing to spend their time in intact conifer forests and in grassy meadows. During the autumn hunting season, however elk selected for beetle-killed forests, perhaps as an escape tactic from hunters. GPS tracking of human hunters also showed that hunters were willing to follow elk into and use beetle-killed areas for hunting purposes, particularly when more elk were there.