Home range and habitat use by Roosevelt elk in Olympic National Park, Washington Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/3r074z25x

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  • This research provides information on the distribution of an unexploited Roosevelt elk population in unaltered habitat in Olympic National Park. Radio-telemetry was used to document home range and habitat use by 11 adult cow elk in the Hoh Valley during March 1978, from 10 June-15 September 1978, and from 1 January-20 March 1979. That information provides a baseline for comparison with managed herds adjacent to the park and identification of long term changes in the distribution of elk in the Hoh Valley. Four groups of cow elk were identified in the study area. Cow groups were stable; elk within a group used a common home range and were highly associated. Home ranges of elk from adjacent groups overlapped but there was no permanent interchange of collared elk between groups during the period of study. There was no significant difference between mean summer and mean winter home range size; however, summer home range was larger than winter home range in five, of seven, comparisons. Average home range area of collared elk was 1034 ha during summer and 1003 ha during winter. Daily movement of elk was greater during summer than during winter; minimum daily movement distance averaged 843 m during summer and 676 m during winter. Movement of cow elk with newly born calves in June was considerably less than movement of elk without calves. The habitat use of radio-equipped elk was studied in relation to 13 habitat units on national park land and 11 units on non-park land. Collared elk were found primarily in habitat units on the valley floor during both seasons, although there was seasonal variation in the use of those units. Elk were least selective of habitat during winter, most selective during late winter and moderately selective during summer. Alder flats were selected by each collared elk during late winter and were identified as important elk habitat in the Hoh Valley because use of such areas was prevalent during a nutritionally important time of year for cow elk. Other patterns of habitat use were discussed in relation to thermal and nutritional characteristics of the watershed.
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