Dana Sanchez, Adam Gaylord
Latin name: Cervus canadensis
Elk are one of the most charismatic members of the deer family here in the U.S. Elk occur in forest and forest-edge vegetation communities, and often migrate between seasonal ranges in order to find enough food. In many places, elk share the forest and rangelands with other members of the deer family, such as mule and white-tailed deer, our domestic grazing animals such as cattle and horses, and us. Being able to remotely sense behavior states (via body movement accelerometers in GPS radiocollars) across long distances and long time periods can be very helpful to scientists and managers – Before these tools were available, people with binoculars had to try to keep track of these important and informative changes and were challenged by weather, darkness, and animal avoidance, among other factors. Dr. Sanchez’s and graduate student Adam Gaylord used synchronized live and remote (collar data) observations to create computer models to predict elk behavior from the signals collected by the radiocollars. Managers can use these and similar models to better understand how elk are behaving (feeding on grass, feeding on browse/shrubs, walking, running) in response to the landscape, its vegetation, other species, and additional factors, such as human uses and infrastructures on the landscape.