Graduation Date

Summer 2019

Document Type

Thesis

Program

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

Committee Chair Name

Tim Bean

Committee Chair Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Second Committee Member Name

Micaela Szykman Gunther

Second Committee Member Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Third Committee Member Name

Daniel Barton

Third Committee Member Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Subject Categories

Wildlife

Abstract

Species are often challenged by periodic changes in food availability and habitat quality. These environmental conditions may provide strong selective pressure for animals to strategically "scout" for important resources during periods of abundance, when exploratory movements are less costly. North American porcupines experience a drastic shift in forage quality from summer - a time of abundant, high quality forage - to winter, a nutritional bottleneck. I evaluated potential scouting behaviors of porcupines in Tolowa Dunes State Park, California using movement and habitat-use data. I compared summer and winter space use of porcupines using GPS data and monitored seasonal use of winter habitat with the use of trail cameras. I also measured nutritional and structural variables of these habitats and used these data to model potential drivers of scouting behavior. Results provided evidence for scouting, suggesting that structural characteristics of winter habitat were driving summer movements. Specifically, it appears porcupines sampled winter habitat randomly during summer. Then, they selected a subsample of those areas to use during winter using information about habitat structure, rather than winter forage quality. Porcupines in Tolowa may be limited by potential areas to seek refuge from winter rainfall and cold temperatures. More broadly, these results provide evidence of a previously undescribed search behavior that other species may be utilizing to inform selection or resources and habitat. More research is needed to improve our understanding of the way scouting is exhibited across taxonomic groups and habitat types.

Citation Style

Journal of Wildlife Management

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