Graduation Date

Spring 2019

Document Type

Thesis

Program

Master of Science degree with a major in Natural Resources, option Wildlife

Committee Chair Name

Dr. Micaela Szykman Gunther

Committee Chair Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Second Committee Member Name

Dr. Daniel Barton

Second Committee Member Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Third Committee Member Name

Dr. William Bean

Third Committee Member Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Subject Categories

Wildlife

Abstract

Group size abundance estimates of Roosevelt elk (Cervus canadensis roosevelti) in Humboldt and Del Norte counties, California have largely been inferred through visual counts. However immigration and emigration, the inability to sight elk behind viewing obstructions, and a lack of individual identifiers makes precise and accurate estimates difficult to obtain. Using DNA collected through fecal samples left by elk groups can aid in addressing these difficulties. I tested the hypothesis that GPS (Global Positioning System) collar data from adult female elk could indicate discrete site use locations of their social groups, which in turn yield sufficient sample sizes for use in a capture-recapture framework of abundance estimates of group size. I also evaluated the relationship between increased site use and the rate of capturing individual elk through fecal DNA by analyzing GPS collar data in Local Convex Hull (LoCoH). I found that GPS location data from female elk were sufficient in delineating discrete fecal DNA sampling sites that could be used to calculate group size estimates within 2-4 sampling occasions. I also found that more intensely used sites indicated by LoCoH yielded more unique genotypes when compared to lesser used locations for 2 of the 3 elk groups in this study. Abundance estimates were confounded by shifting elk social dynamics during the rutting season, indicating that sampling during times of increased social cohesion and increased site use (i.e., January and February) could be more efficient for estimating group size.

Citation Style

The Journal of Wildlife Management

Included in

Life Sciences Commons

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