Leadership behavior and foraging strategies of a herd of Roosevelt elk inhabiting the Oregon Coast Range Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/3n2043661

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  • A cow-calf herd of Roosevelt elk (Cervus elaphus roosevelti) resident to Indian Creek Research Center (ICRC), Oregon was observed June-August, 1985 and March-August, 1986. Cows at ICRC reproduced in alternate years; cows with calves led the herd a significantly greater number of times than cows without calves (1985, P < 0.05; 1986, P < 0.01). Activity budgets of 9 individual cow elk were significantly different (X² = 97.52, df = 24, P < 0.001) with the greatest differences occurring in the feeding and alert categories (61%-86% and 2%-27%, respectively). One individual had an alert frequency more than 3 times the mean cow alert frequency of 8% and could be considered a sentry. There was a highly significant difference (P < 0.001) in the activity budgets of cows and young calves (1-3 months old), cows and older calves (8-11 months old), and cows and yearlings (12-15 months old). During summer, cows spent a greater proportion of time feeding (78%) compared to calves 1-3 months old (66%). Alert frequency for yearlings and cows during summmer equalled 1% and 8%, respectively; young calves spent no time watching for potential danger. Yearlings fed more frequently (87%) than cows (78%); male yearlings spent 28% more time feeding than females. There was no significant difference between the activity budgets of cows with calves and cows without calves. The foraging strategies of cows and calves differed throughout the study period. The greatest differences between the diets of cows and calves occurred when the calves were 1-2 months old. Young calves were more selective in their foraging habits and relied primarily on forbs to meet their energy needs. Both cows and calves selected the most nutritious, palatable, forage available each season. As the calves matured, grasses made a larger contribution to their diets. Herd use of the meadow areas was highly correlated to meadow size and percent clover (r² = 0.87, F = 23.18, P = 0.001).
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