Status and habitat preference of California bighorn sheep on Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge, Nevada Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/2r36v1139

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  • A herd of California bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis californiana), re-introduced to the area of Hell Creek on the Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge in northwestern Nevada, was studied from 15 June 1978 to 20 August 1980. Major vegetation and physiographic types were delineated and described. Habitat preferences were determined from field observations of sheep use of both vegetation and physiographic habitat components. Sheep displayed preference in their use of habitat components during all seasons; greatest selection was shown by the ewe/ lamb band for physiographic types associated with escape cover in spring, and for vegetation types associated with quality forage in winter. Rams generally displayed less selective habitat use than did the ewe/lamb band. The population was relatively stable at 30-35 individuals, following the initial post-introduction period of rapid growth. It was hypothesized that high quality lambing terrain was limited in quantity within the present ewe/lamb range, and that expansion of the ewe/lamb range to include the nearby Boulder Spring and Virgin Canyon areas would promote substantial population increase. Water was available during all seasons. Spring use of mineral licks may have been related to seasonal mineral deficiency associated with tissue and/or milk production. Activity patterns suggested that sheep adapted their daily activities to fit local, seasonal situations.
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