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Bison, bighorn, and feral horse populations

February 26, 2014

Are herds of bison, bighorn, and feral horses in Rocky Mountain ecosystems in decline? Kate Schoenecker, U.S. Geological Survey, Fort Collins Science Center, will share the results of a study to determine the numbers and survival rates of bighorn. She'll also discuss conservation efforts on behalf of bison and the management and impact of feral horses on mountain ecosystems.

Friday, February 28
11 a.m.-noon
Natural and Environmental Sciences
Room A 302-304

The Natural Resource Ecology Lab Spring 2014 Seminar Series presents Kate Schoenecker, U.S. Geological Survey, Fort Collins Science Center.

Schoenecker will present "Bison, Bighorns, and Feral Horses: Ungulates in Rocky Mountain Ecosystems."

The event is free and open to the public.

Ungulate herbivores are an integral part of Rocky Mountain ecosystems, and as such, managers need to understand how changing environmental dynamics may limit these large herbivores.

Three studies on Rocky Mountain ungulates will be presented and discussed:

  1. In a study of bighorn sheep in a designated Wilderness Area, we used non-invasive genetic markers from feces to determine bighorn sheep abundance and survivorship for a herd that was hypothesized to be declining. We sampled from a small but accessible portion of the population’s range and relied on citizen science volunteers to maximize data collection and reduce costs. The method has promise in areas where wilderness character and wilderness values are revered, such as within Rocky Mountain National Park.
  2. Bison conservation is currently being proposed in the San Luis Valley of Colorado. This cold desert ecosystem is part of the historic range of bison. We studied bison-elk-vegetation interactions to understand the role of bison in this ecosystem, and provide decision-making capacity to resource managers.
  3. A proposed study of feral horses inhabiting a mountain ecosystem will be presented: Ecological modeling to determine appropriate management level and assess ecological integrity of habitat.

Contact: Bryony Wardell
Phone: (970) 491-2542