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Foraging-predator avoidance trade-offs made by migrant and resident elk (Cervus elaphus) on their sympatric winter range

  • Author / Creator
    Robinson, Barry Glen
  • Migratory behaviour of the Ya Ha Tinda (YHT) elk population is diminishing while the number of residents remaining on the YHT winter range year-round is increasing. Previous research addressing the fitness consequences of each migratory strategy assumed there was no advantage to either segment when they shared the YHT winter range. In testing this assumption, I found no spatial segregation of migrant and resident home-ranges during winter. Both groups were exposed to similar forage resources and residents were exposed to higher night-time, but not day-time predation risk. Residents were better than migrants at reducing the foraging costs of vigilance and increased vigilance in areas of high wolf predation risk, but not near human activity because of habituation. Migrants were not habituated to humans and exhibited more constant vigilance regardless of spatial variations in risk. My results do not support the previous assumption. Instead, I found residents may be at an advantage on the winter range while forage is abundant and no snow is present.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    2009-11
  • Type of Item
    Thesis
  • Degree
    Master of Science
  • DOI
    https://doi.org/10.7939/R3S594
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
  • Language
    English
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
    Master's
  • Department
    • Department of Biological Sciences
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
    • Merrill, Evelyn (Biological Sciences)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Hudson, Robert (Renewable Resources)
    • Cassady St. Clair, Colleen (Biological Sciences)
    • White, Clifford (Parks Canada)