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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: DISTURBANCE ASSESSMENT AND MITIGATION OF GREAT BASIN RANGELAND

Location: Northwest Watershed Management Research

Title: Effect of lunar phase on diurnal activity of Rocky Mountain Elk (Cervus Elaphus Nelsonii)

Authors
item Woodside, Gail -
item Johnson, Douglas -
item Clark, Patrick
item Ganskopp, David
item Vavra, Martin -
item Dick, Brian -
item Wilkinson, Mitchell -

Submitted to: Society for Range Management Meeting Abstracts
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: September 1, 2008
Publication Date: February 8, 2009
Citation: Woodside, G.J., Johnson, D.E., Clark, P., Ganskopp, D.C., Vavra, M., Dick, B.L., Wilkinson, M.G. 2009. Effect of lunar phase on diurnal activity of Rocky Mountain Elk (Cervus Elaphus Nelsonii). Society for Range Management Meeting Abstracts. NA.

Technical Abstract: Rocky Mountain elk (Cervus elaphus nelsonii) are important components in many ecosystems across the western US and are integral with both Native American and contemporary western culture. They are prized by hunters and are the object of countless works of art. These magnificent creatures are studied from both ecological and physiological perspectives on the Starkey Experimental Range near Ukiah, Oregon (118.5057° W, 45.2454°N). Our study was designed to determine if elk have different activity budgets during full and new moon periods. Two pastures of approximately 17 ha (42 acres) each were used. The pastures contained both open grassland and mixed conifer forest. Ten female Rocky Mountain elk, 5 per pasture, were collared with GPS units that recorded their position and velocity at 1 second intervals. Collars were powered by 4 “D” cell alkaline batteries which recorded positions for approximately 6.25 days. Ten week-long trials centered on either a full moon or a new moon were run during the summer and early fall of 2008 and 2009. After each trial data was downloaded and classed into moving and stationary periods. Movement was further classed by mean velocity during 61 second running periods into 0.5 km/hr categories Distance traveled per day and percent of time traveling in each velocity class was calculated and compared between animals, pastures, and full vs. new moon phases.

Last Modified: 8/22/2014
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