Habitat use and spatial interactions of cattle, wild horses, mule deer, and California bighorn sheep in the Owyhee breaks of southeast Oregon Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/fj236489f

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  • The objectives of this study were to quantify and describe: (1) the major plant communities and their distribution, (2) the distribution and movement patterns of large herbivores relative to water, topography, and plant communities, (3) the daily activity patterns of each herbivore, and (4) the borne range size of wild horse bands and studs on a 376 km² area in southeast Oregon. Distribution of plant communities about the area was indicative of a history of overgrazing and fire. Communities in low ecologic condition were associated with relatively level terrain and basin areas. Wild horses and bighorn sheep were year-around study area residents. Cattle occupancy was from April through October, and intensive deer use occurred from October through April. Deer movement to and from the area was correlated with, but probably not caused by cattle activities. Deer, however, preferred cheatgrass communities previously grazed by livestock. Ellipse estimates of home ranges for bands and studs averaged 28.3 and 25.8 km², respectively. Polygon estates for band and stud home ranges averaged 11.8 and 12.3 km², respectively. Home ranges of bands and studs overlapped substantially, and no territorial behavior was observed. Home range size showed a significant, but weak, negative correlation with water hole density. With the exception of bighorn sheep, habitat use by large herbivores was negatively correlated with increasing slope. Species order for progressively greater use of slopes was cattle, horses, deer, and bighorn sheep. Of the 4 herbivores studied bighorn sheep were the most restricted in distribution. Progressive rankings of greater spatial distribution were: bighorn sheep, cattle, horses, and deer. Patterns of resource use by large herbivores did not always conform to mathmatical expectations.
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