Presentation Type

Presentation - Campus Access Only

Faculty Mentor’s Full Name

Mark Hebblewhite

Faculty Mentor’s Department

Wildlife Biology

Abstract

Imperfect detection is ubiquitous among wildlife research and can affect research conclusions and management. Accordingly, detection probability is often included in observation-based models. Here, we leveraged long-term research of gray wolves (Canis lupus) in northern Yellowstone National Park to evaluate how the probability of sighting radio-collared wolf packs from ground-based locations was affected by the characteristics of each spatial location (i.e., distance from the road and viewability [a combination of landscape “openness” and whether visible from a viewshed created from the road and nearby observation points]). To do so, we used 2,681 unique, daily observations of 17 wolf packs collected during 44 unique 30-day winter monitoring periods from 1995 – 2017 and used matched-case control logistic regression with a 1:1 sampling design between observed and random locations. We found that the probability of wolf sightings declined as wolves were farther from the road and increased when wolves were in open, viewable areas. We then evaluated whether these conclusions were affected by wolf group size or whether wolves were feeding at a carcass and found that the probability of sightings only clearly decreased when smaller groups of wolves were farther from the road. Ultimately, we used our results to build spatial predictions for seeing radio-collared wolves in northern Yellowstone National Park. These predictions are useful to managers by identifying “hot-spots” of wolf observations, and can also be incorporated into research related to wolf ecology and predator-prey dynamics that relies on ground-based observations of wolves.

Category

Life Sciences

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Apr 27th, 2:00 PM Apr 27th, 2:20 PM

Spatial Patterns of Winter Roadside Gray Wolf Sightability in Yellowstone National Park

UC 327

Imperfect detection is ubiquitous among wildlife research and can affect research conclusions and management. Accordingly, detection probability is often included in observation-based models. Here, we leveraged long-term research of gray wolves (Canis lupus) in northern Yellowstone National Park to evaluate how the probability of sighting radio-collared wolf packs from ground-based locations was affected by the characteristics of each spatial location (i.e., distance from the road and viewability [a combination of landscape “openness” and whether visible from a viewshed created from the road and nearby observation points]). To do so, we used 2,681 unique, daily observations of 17 wolf packs collected during 44 unique 30-day winter monitoring periods from 1995 – 2017 and used matched-case control logistic regression with a 1:1 sampling design between observed and random locations. We found that the probability of wolf sightings declined as wolves were farther from the road and increased when wolves were in open, viewable areas. We then evaluated whether these conclusions were affected by wolf group size or whether wolves were feeding at a carcass and found that the probability of sightings only clearly decreased when smaller groups of wolves were farther from the road. Ultimately, we used our results to build spatial predictions for seeing radio-collared wolves in northern Yellowstone National Park. These predictions are useful to managers by identifying “hot-spots” of wolf observations, and can also be incorporated into research related to wolf ecology and predator-prey dynamics that relies on ground-based observations of wolves.