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Using presence of sign to measure habitats used by Roosevelt elk

Wildlife Society Bulletin
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Abstract

tract Radiotelemetry and pellet-group surveys are methods used commonly to measure habi- tat use by large ungulates. However, telemetry can be expensive and analysis of data col- lected from pellet-group surveys is restricted to rank analysis. We explored the feasibil- ity of recording the presence of Roosevelt elk (Cervus elaphus roosevelti) sign to identify habitats used by elk. We surveyed stations (1-ha circular plots) about 0.72 km apart for the presence of 0- to 4-day-old elk sign (tracks and feces) from October to April 1994-1997 at 2 sites in northwestern California. Our objectives were to: 1) measure errors in detecting and classifying elk presence at stations from sign, 2) determine auto- correlation of elk sign at stations to assess what is an independent data point, 3) examine the effect of 2 station sizes on the rate of sign detections, and 4) determine sample sizes needed to detect habitat use. We detected elk sign 96.6% of the time (n=68) when elk were observed at stations within 0-4 days. Elk sign was misclassified only 3 times (n= 70). No autocorrelations in sign detections across time or space were detected because observed data were similar to sign generated randomly at stations. The proportion of 1-ha (0.12) and 2-ha stations (0.13) with sign was similar. Sample sizes >400 were need- ed to have power >0.8 to detect relationships among habitat variables and frequency of sign at stations. Recording the presence of sign in stations appears to be a reliable and feasible technique to measure habitats used by elk.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Using presence of sign to measure habitats used by Roosevelt elk
Series title Wildlife Society Bulletin
Volume 28
Issue 1
Year Published 2000
Language English
Publisher Wildlife Society
Contributing office(s) Western Ecological Research Center
Description 8 p.
First page 146
Last page 153