About our work

moose@2x

We conduct ecological research to help better understand, manage and conserve animal populations. Our applied research program builds knowledge about wildlife populations and communities by seeking general solutions to specific management and conservation challenges. Although our ecological research interests are broad, we tend to focus on large mammals (ungulates in particular), and we seek to understand their behavior, population dynamics, community-level interactions, and the factors that sustain their seasonal migrations.

Vast, wild landscapes that still support functional ecosystems are a hallmark of Wyoming and the West. Our work seeks to better understand how these systems work and how their functioning is altered by anthropogenic disturbance and habitat loss. By better understanding the ecology of the Western landscape, we hope to provide knowledge and tools to managers that seek to maintain healthy wildlife habitats and communities.

 

Projects

  • We are evaluating the influence of development type and intensity on migratory behavior of several western Wyoming mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) populations using GPS collar data. These migration routes span a gradient of development, from intact habitat to housing infrastructure to landscapes developed for petroleum extraction. More

  • We are evaluating how the bark beetle epidemic occurring in Wyoming’s forests may influence elk and hunter movements and interactions. Landscape-level changes to the forest as a result of the bark beetle may result in changes in where elk forage, in turn, potentially changing the ability of hunter to access and harvest elk. Understanding how the bark beetle epidemic is affecting elk and hunters will help wildlife and land managers manage Wyoming’s changing forests. More

  • Brucellosis is a bacterial disease resulting in abortions for some ungulates. It remains endemic to elk and bison in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem and can be transmitted to cattle via comingling between March and May when most abortions occur. We are using GPS collar data from adult female elk captured on winter feedgrounds in Wyoming to a) develop a movement model for elk, b) simulate elk distribution under varying annual weather patterns, and c) map areas of high risk for interspecific brucellosis transmission. More

  • The objectives of the Sublette Moose Project are 3-fold: First, we are providing a baseline synthesis of Sublette moose seasonal-habitat use, nutrition and demography for that herd, which is the largest in Wyoming. Second, we are assessing the relative influence of predator density (wolves and grizzly bears), habitat condition and weather on the demography of the Jackson and Sublette moose herds. Third, we are testing the influence of wolf presence on movement rates and habitat use of moose in the Jackson region. More

  • Wildlife managers have struggled for decades to maintain populations at or near local carrying capacities because they often lack the tools necessary for identifying when and where resources, such as food, are limiting. Accordingly, the goal of this study is to identify the habitat, climatic, behavioral and nutritional characteristics that reflect a population experiencing resource limitation. By using a variety of field and lab methods to identify resource limitations, we will develop a tool-set that managers can use to measure resource limitation and make science-based management decisions. More

  • Traditional herd composition surveys are completed using helicopters or fixed wing aircraft, proving to be both costly and dangerous. Remote photography could provide an alternative method for collecting composition data that is more cost efficient and safer. We are investigating the efficacy of this new methodology and it’s potential for long term monitoring of migratory elk herds in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. More

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