GIS, Telemetry, Remote Sensing


  • Risk Effects in the Movement and Behavior of White-Tailed Deer*
  • Michael Edward Egan; Guillaume Bastille-Rousseau; Nicole T. Gorman; Peter E. Schlichting; Daniel J. Skinner; Michael W. Eichholz
    Risk effects result from an animal’s behavioral response to potential sources of mortality. The behavioral response to risk is important for white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), a prey species that face predator and anthropogenic risks that, in many cases, have been altered in type and magnitude by human development. Using GPS data from white-tailed deer, coyotes (Canis latrans), and bobcats (Lynx rufus), we will assess the impact of risk and habitat on the behavior and contact of white-tailed deer. We will capture and fit deer, coyotes, and bobcats with GPS collars at two sites in Illinois. One site will be in a predominately agricultural landscape in central Illinois and another in more forested Southern Illinois. Predator GPS data will be used to characterize risk across the landscape based on predator use and anthropogenic risk will be estimated based on the prevalence of hunting and human activity. We will use white-tailed deer movement data to identify deer behavioral states, analyze deer social networks, and build resource selection functions for white-tailed deer. We will further relate deer behavior to risk by modeling deer behavior and contact as a function of perceived risk and habitat. Our results will provide insight into how multiple risks, including those from predators and humans, impact the behavior, movement, and contact of white-tailed deer. Our improved understanding of the movement and behavior of deer will improve our ability to model the distribution and abundance of deer using mechanistic models that incorporate the stochasticity and complexity of behavior and connect behavioral theory to ecological patterns. Improvements to our ability to capture behavioral complexity will be increasingly important in our ability to answer specific ecological and management questions, such as the impact that movement, behavior, and risk might have on chronic wasting disease (CWD).

  • Lasiurid Bats Exhibit Diverse Foraging Strategies and Large Home Ranges in Agricultural Iowa
  • Julia Wilson; Tim Sichmeller; Mandy Kauffman
    Migratory tree bats comprise the majority of fatalities at wind turbines in the fall migration season in North America. However, tree bat fatalities have been found at several Iowa wind facilities during the summer maternity season. Prior studies examining maternal home ranges of Lasiurus borealis have largely focused on forested habitats, and few data exist that describe foraging behavior of Lasiurus cinereus. From 2018 – 2019, we examined summer landscape use by tree bats in areas relatively devoid of forested habitat near operational wind facilities. We conducted foraging telemetry and collected multi-azimuth triangulations on 10 Lasiurid bats in central Iowa, and obtained complete foraging data on six L. borealis and one lactating L. cinereus. L. borealis exhibited notable intraspecific variation in total and core foraging ranges, and larger average foraging ranges than available studies to-date. Several L. borealis roosted in standalone trees in non-forested habitat types (agricultural land, residential areas) and foraged heavily across open landscapes. The lactating L. cinereus in this study had a substantially larger total and core foraging range (9,482.5 ha and 1,113.3 ha, respectively) and foraged more extensively over agricultural land than seen in prior studies. Findings suggest migratory tree bats exhibit broad geographic variation in foraging and roosting ecology, warranting further consideration as U.S. wind facilities are frequently constructed in open areas away from forest.

  • Landscape Connectivity Challenges Facing the Southern Expansion of New Jersey Bobcats*
  • Ariana L. Cerreta; Kyle P. McCarthy; Gretchen Fowles
    In urban environments, the threats of habitat fragmentation and destruction, barriers to dispersal, and anthropogenic causes of mortality affect the recolonization potential of extirpated species. One such species, the bobcat (Lynx rufus), historically occurred throughout the state of New Jersey, but due to agricultural expansion at the turn of the century and increased urbanization now occurs almost exclusively in the northern portion of the state. Our study examined current barriers to dispersal and the possibility of the establishment of central and southern New Jersey bobcat populations. To evaluate landscape connectivity throughout New Jersey, we applied circuit theory using the program Circuitscape within a GIS framework. We developed a statewide habitat suitability index for bobcats and used the inverse of these values to assign habitat resistance values, with some adjustment for road-based metrics. We then ran “current,” representing movement potential, through this resistance landscape between each pair of habitat cores and used summed current densities for each cell to create a connectivity map. Using circuit theory in combination with least-cost path analysis, we next identified potential barriers and bottlenecks to bobcat movement throughout New Jersey. Our results indicated that there are severe barriers and connectivity challenges throughout central New Jersey along the urbanized corridor bordering Interstate 95. We will incorporate these connectivity maps into subsequent spatially explicit, individual-based models to examine the probability of bobcat recolonization of habitat patches in central and southern New Jersey. Additionally, these maps will allow state managers to prioritize important regions for bobcat connectivity to maintain or improve within the Connecting Habitat Across New Jersey framework.

  • Cougar Recolonization of Eastern North America: Habitat Connectivity and Human Dimensions*
  • Brianna M. Winkel; Clayton K. Nielsen; Elizabeth M. Hillard; Ronald Sutherland; Michelle A. LaRue
    Cougars (Puma concolor) have been recolonizing Midwestern North America during the past 2 decades with >950 cougar confirmations east of established populations. Management and public interest in habitat connectivity and human dimensions east of current cougar range have grown as confirmations increase and models predicting habitat connectivity and population viability for the Midwest show potential for sustained breeding populations. However, although long-range dispersal and recolonization continues, no studies have assessed potential habitat and human dimensions associated with cougars throughout their historical range in eastern North America. We are using ArcGIS, the Analytical Hierarchy Process, and geospatial data to evaluate suitable habitat for cougar recolonization of eastern North America and potential dispersal corridors based on 5 factors: habitat type, slope, human density, distance to roads, and distance to water. Our study area encompasses >8,564,917km2 and includes all 37 states and 4 Canadian provinces from Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico eastward to the Atlantic Ocean. Our dispersal models compare 2 techniques, Least Cost Paths and Circuitscape software, to determine which might be more suitable for mapping dispersal for individuals with no prior knowledge of the landscape. We also distributed 20,000 surveys to assess public opinion regarding expanding predator populations within eastern North America to evaluate potential social impacts of recolonizing cougars. Our survey responses are divided into classes based on different demographics to better pinpoint potential areas of conflict between humans and carnivores. Cougar range expansion and the sociological impacts of increasing large carnivore populations are important topics for wildlife managers; our research will identify areas of potential cougar recolonization and address the social implications of increasing cougar-human interactions.

  • Modeling Black Vulture Movement and Habitat Selection in Southern Indiana and Northern Kentucky*
  • Marian Wahl; Bryan Kluever; Lee Humberg; Grant Burcham; Brett Dunlap; Patrick Zollner
    Black vultures (Coragyps atratus) are unique among New World vultures in that they are documented to kill newborn livestock, creating a financial burden to producers. While these predation events are well established, very little research has been done to quantify the extent of this loss, identify risk factors, or evaluate potential mitigation techniques. Historically, black vultures were endemic to the southeastern United States and Central and South America. However, in recent decades, black vultures have expanded their range into previously unoccupied regions, including the Midwest. Cattle producers in this region are increasingly concerned about impacts on their herds as vultures and predation events become more common. Identifying and understanding the suite of environmental and anthropogenic variables that influence foraging, roosting, and movement will delineate where and how depredation risk is greatest. Step selection functions (SSF) derived from fine-scale GPS tracking data provide an excellent means for habitat selection studies. Previous studies on black vultures in the southeastern US employed GPS trackers to analyze movement near airfields or in limited-use areas, but no research has focused on habitat selection in agricultural landscapes. We will capture and attach GSM backpack transmitters to black vultures in agricultural landscapes of southern Indiana and northern Kentucky. We will then use SSFs to model how vulture movement is impacted by landscape configurations, including vegetation type, human infrastructure, and cattle production. As proof of concept, this study uses black vulture movement data from GPS-tagged birds in the southeastern US from previous USDA research efforts. We identify landscape predictor variables and conduct SSF analyses to understand how those features impact vulture movement ecology. This pilot study will allow optimization of our analytical methods and will inform future experimental design for trapping and tagging.


    Location: Virtual Date: Time: -