Behavioral ecology and conservation of large mammals: historical distribution, reintroduction and the effects of fragmented habitat

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Title: Behavioral ecology and conservation of large mammals: historical distribution, reintroduction and the effects of fragmented habitat
Author: Gilad, Oranit
Abstract: Conservation biologists have used reintroduction as a method to reestablish extirpated species in their native habitat . Three important aspects of a successful reintroduction effort include : (1 ) a habitat suitability study of the reintroduction area , including effects of migration corridors ; (2 ) identification of possible predators of the reintroduced species ; and (3 ) a post -reintroduction assessment including an evaluation of the species' population dynamics . In this study I examine the suitability of Guadalupe Mountains National Park (GUMO ) as a reintroduction area for desert bighorn sheep . The study used landscape metrics to compare GUMO to a nearby mountain range that is currently supporting an estimated population of 400 bighorn sheep . This study identified migration corridors for bighorns throughout the region and evaluated mountain lion (a potential predator of bighorn sheep ) numbers either residing in or passing through the park between the years 1997 to 2004 . Results on the studies in GUMO revealed 15 ,884 ha of suitable habitat for bighorn sheep and provided evidence of migration routes between GUMO and neighboring mountain ranges . In terms of potential predators , a minimum of 32 resident and /or transient mountain lions occurred in GUMO over a seven year period , and a minimum of 15 cats used the park in 2002 . Based on estimates of individual home range of males and females , GUMO should be able to support four to five individuals . The genetic data indicates a high number of transients or perhaps an unstable population of mountain lions that may be the result of intense hunting pressure of cats in Texas . Finally , my study simulates parameters of the population dynamics of a different species , the Arabian oryx that was reintroduced as three separate populations to the Israeli Negev between 1998 and 2005 . I simulated population growth and the effect of migration corridors on species persistence . Results suggest that migration corridors are essential for a self -sustaining viable metapopulation under current natality rates . In the event that natality rates increase (as was evident in a reintroduced population of Arabian oryx in Oman ) , metapopulation can reach viable size with only two of the release sites (open , flat terrain ) connected by migration corridors .
URI: http : / /hdl .handle .net /1969 .1 /ETD -TAMU -1665
Date: 2009-05-15

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Behavioral ecology and conservation of large mammals: historical distribution, reintroduction and the effects of fragmented habitat. Available electronically from http : / /hdl .handle .net /1969 .1 /ETD -TAMU -1665 .

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