Seasonal movements and habitat use of migratory elk in Mount Rainier National Park Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/6h440z15m

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  • Seasonal movements, habitat use, home range selection, and group interactions of Roosevelt elk (Cervus elaphus roosevelti) were studied in the upper White River watershed in west-central Washington. Over 2000 locations of 14 elk were recorded by radio-telemetry from April 1983 to December 1984. During winter, two herds used clearcut lands near the mouth of the West Fork of the White River (about 610m MSL). One herd migrated four km to a clearcut spring range at 1070m MSL, whereas the other remained on the winter range during spring. Both herds migrated 15 km up river corridors to subalpine parklands within Mount Rainier National Park where they remained from July to October. A third herd wintered in unmanaged old-growth forest within Mount Rainier National Park along bottomlands of the White River Valley (915m MSL). That herd then moved 5-10 km upriver toward summer range during June, and arrived on subalpine summer range the first week in July. All herds migrated back to winter ranges via river corridors following heavy snowfall on November 15, 1983 and October 15, 1984. Winter ranges of elk in both the managed and unmanaged segments of the study area were oriented along the valley floodplain. Consequently, ranges of elk in the managed forest contained greater proportions of old-clearcuts (12-30 years) and alder habitats (which occurred primarily on the floodplains) than existed in the valley. Preferred old-clearcut habitats contained a mosaic of dense, regenerating douglas-fir interspersed with open-canopied foraging areas. Old-growth and young clearcuts, which were located primarily on upland sites, were underrepresented in elk home ranges compared to their availability in the valley. Elk were generally unselective of habitats within the home range. On the spring range of one herd, mid-age clearcuts (4-12 years) and young clearcuts (0-4 years) occurred in a greater proportions than in the valley. Preferred habitats contained many mesic seeps and draws. Spring range in the unmanaged forests consisted of old-growth valley bottom habitats. Habitat preferences of elk varied between two summer ranges within Mount Rainier National Park. In general, elk preferred open subalpine forests, Abies lasiocarpa/Valeriana sitchensis habitat, and alder slide habitats. Additionally, Dry Grass, and Lush-low Herbaceous habitats tended to be used in proportions greater than availability.
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