Graduate Project


Investigating Calving Areas for Rocky Mountain Elk on the Plumas National Forest: Implications for Land Management Public Deposited

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  • Sustainable elk (Cervus canadensis) habitat management on U.S. Forest Service (USFS) lands involves a complex relationship between management practices and ecological processes. A relatively novel Rocky Mountain elk population (Cervus canadensis nelsoni) on the Plumas National Forest (PNF) in northeastern California became established in the early 2000s, but there is little information on the current number of individuals or the extent of land used by elk on the PNF. Elk populations are highly influenced by cow and calf survival and disturbances during the calving period are associated with reduced calf:cow ratios. Taking advantage of the fact that cows and calves have limited mobility during the first few weeks after birth, I developed a survey method that can be utilized by the PNF to identify and conserve key areas where calving activity occurs. Vegetative conditions and management histories will be documented for positively identified calving areas on two scales to begin gathering data related to site selection. The monitoring program will enhance the USFS’s ability to manage elk habitat, as well as food resources for the threatened gray wolf (Canis lupus), and domestic grazing on the PNF. The information will also benefit collaboration with partners as part of multi-stakeholder adaptive management effort.
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