Ungulate Ecology & Management

Contributed Oral Presentations

Contributed paper sessions will be available on-demand for the duration of the conference, then again at the conclusion of the conference.


A Comprehensive Study of Parasites of the Texas State Bison Herd: Part 1
Sara B. Boggan
Parasites can have a significant effect on the typical growth, weight gain, and milk production of any species. Therefore, infections are often managed with common antihelminthics. The purpose of this study is to provide Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (TPWD) with recommendations for treatment of parasites in the Texas State Bison herd at Caprock Canyons State Park (CCSP), Briscoe County, Texas. TPWD biologists base their management plans on restoring native prairies to preserve the historic herd. To improve their management, we will provide TPWD with data concerning the type of parasites, and prevalence and load of intestinal parasites found in the herd. This is the first part of the study for which we report baseline information prior to treatment of some of the individuals. We observed 4 different parasite types: Coccidia, Moniezia, Strongyloides, and Strongylid-type. For our initial analysis we proceeded to sort individuals by age class. Fewer juveniles were infected with Coccidia (χ2 = 5.7, P = 0.017), but more were infected with Strongylid-type (χ2 = 28.8, P < 0.001) and Moniezia (χ2 = 37.9, P < 0.001), but no different in Strongyloides (χ2 = 2.7, P = 0.10) when compared to adults Following sampling for this portion of the study, TPWD treated half of the sampled bison (n = 50) with Cydectine (moxidectine, de-wormer for parasites) leaving the remaining half untreated. As we move into part 2 of the study we will evaluate environmental influences and examine how age of individuals could be affecting parasite prevalence.
Comparison of Woodland Caribou Calving Areas Determined by Movement Patterns Across Northern Ontario
Philip D. Walker; Arthur R. Rodgers; Jennifer L. Shuter; Ian D. Thompson; John M. Fryxell; John G. Cook; Rachel C. Cook; Evelyn H. Merrill
Two drivers of population dynamics are adult female survival and calf recruitment, the latter of which depends on parturition and neonatal mortality. There is limited information on calving and neonatal mortality of woodland caribou (Rangifer tarandus caribou; hereafter caribou) in Ontario. We identified parturition sites and 4-week neonatal mortality using a movement-based approach across 3 northern Ontario study regions (Pickle Lake, Nakina, and Cochrane) that vary in their capacity to support woodland caribou populations. In comparing footage from 22 video-collared caribou to predictions of the movement-based approach, we found parturition events were 100% correctly classified, date of parturition was within 1.08 ± 0.28 (x̄ ± SE) days, and mortality events up to 4 weeks were 88% correctly classified. Across study regions, 76% of caribou (n = 107) gave birth with median parturition dates a week later in Cochrane (23 May) than in Pickle Lake (17 May) and Nakina (16 May). We compared selection ratios for 3 cover types and presence of linear features within 1 km for caribou with a calf-at-heel (n = 81) during a neonatal (defined by movement rates postpartum) and a post-neonatal period (up to 35 days postpartum). Across study regions, caribou consistently selected for closed-canopied forests, and mostly against areas of early-seral stands (< 20 years old) and areas nearlinear featuresduring both periods, whereas caribou only selected for lowlands during the post-neonatal period. Thirty percent of the caribou that gave live births (n = 81) lost their calf within the first 4 weeks post-parturition with higher risk of neonatal mortality associated with increased use of lowlands, linear features, and higher movement rates in lowlands.
Disturbance-Recruitment Relationships of Boreal Caribou in Boreal Shield and Hudson Bay Lowland Ecozones
Arthur R. Rodgers; Jennifer Shuter; Jennifer A. Rodgers; Robert S. Rempel; Kevin Green; Dennis Brannen; Daniel Fortin; Phil McLoughlin
Based on a 2011 meta-analysis of disturbance-recruitment data from 24 ranges, Environment Canada recommends a minimum threshold of 65% undisturbed habitat to provide a 60% probability of caribou persistence over a 20-year period. We added new Ontario data to the EC analyses and found almost half of Ontario ranges were outside the 90% PI of the original relationship. We attributed the poor fit to the quality of disturbance data used in the original analysis and differences in disturbance regimes between northern caribou ranges, dominated by natural disturbance, and more southerly ranges, dominated by anthropogenic disturbance. Subsequently, we undertook a reanalysis of disturbance-vital rate relationships in Ontario following the EC methodology but incorporating Ontario-specific disturbance data. We found weak relationships between recruitment and total or natural disturbance in Ontario ranges but a strong negative relationship between recruitment and anthropogenic disturbance in ranges where anthropogenic (primarily forestry) exceeded natural disturbance. However, these analyses were limited to a maximum of 7-13 ranges, and there were few ranges with moderate or high levels of anthropogenic disturbance. Hence, we combined our data with data from other Boreal Shield ranges in Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Quebec to undertake a reanalysis of disturbance-vital rate relationships. With the increase in sample size (n=21), we found a strong quadratic relationship between recruitment and anthropogenic disturbance and weak relationships between recruitment and total or natural disturbance. When we limited our analyses to ranges dominated by anthropogenic disturbance (n=13), there were strong negative relationships between recruitment and both total and anthropogenic disturbance.
Validations, Degradations, and Determination of Pregnancy in Pronghorn Antelope Using Fecal Steroid Metabolites
Cole A. Bleke; Susannah S. French; Eric M. Gese
Pregnancy status is a key parameter used to assess reproductive performance as it represents a starting point for vital rate measurements. Vital rates allow managers to determine trends in populations such as neonate survival and recruitment; two important factors in pronghorn antelope (Antilocapra americana) population growth. Techniques to determine pregnancy have generally involved capture and restraint of the animal. Non-invasive pregnancy assessment eliminates any hazards between handler and animal and removes handling-induced physiological bias. Using fecal sampling, we conducted hormone validations, investigated pregnancy rates, and determined hormone degradation rates across five pronghorn antelope populations. Samples were collected during April and May of 2018 and 2019 from adult pronghorn of known sex and age class. Levels of testosterone, cortisol, 17β-estradiol, and progesterone were validated in fecal samples, and concentrations of estradiol and progesterone were used for pregnancy determination. Fecal progesterone metabolites (FPM) were significantly different between pregnant and non-pregnant females while levels fecal estrogen metabolites were not different. The greatest difference between pregnant and nonpregnant FPM measurements occurred late in gestation. Results from pregnancy determination sampling showed FPM averages for all five populations significantly different than non-pregnant female validation group. Cortisol, or fecal glucocorticoid metabolites (FGM), were not significant between pregnant female and non-pregnant females, but were different between pregnant and male pronghorn. Degradation rates showed concentrations of FPM and FGM were statistically different across days. Values from Day 1 were significantly different from all subsequent days for FPM, and after Day 9 for FGM, demonstrating the need for fresh samples to accurately measure hormone concentrations. Overall, across populations, average concentrations of FPM indicated pregnancy rates were high. Results of the validations demonstrated that diagnosis of pregnancy is possible in pronghorn via progesterone metabolites if fresh samples are collected during late gestation.
Mycoplasma bovis Results in Fatal Pneumonia in Free Ranging Pronghorn in Northeastern Wyoming
Marguerite D. Johnson; Erika Peckham; Hally Killion; Terry Creekmore; Samantha E. Allen; Hank Edwards; Madison Vance; Rebecca Ashley; Christopher Anderson; Marce Vasquez; Jim Mildenberger; Noah Hull; Karen B. Register; Kerry S. Sondgeroth; Jennifer L. Mal
Mycoplasma bovis is an economically important bacterial pathogen of cattle that contributes to polymicrobial bovine respiratory disease. Historically limited to cattle, the host range of M. bovis has more recently expanded to include North American bison, in which the bacterium is highly pathogenic. In 2019, we documented a fatal M. bovis outbreak involving over 60 pronghorn antelope (Antilocapra americana) in northeastern Wyoming. The bacterium had not previously been reported in pronghorn. In spring of 2020, we documented a second outbreak of M. bovis was documented with an estimated 500 pronghorn deaths in the same area of Wyoming. The reemergence of M. bovis in the pronghorn population suggests either a repeat spillover event from cattle, or infection of naïve pronghorn by animals that survived the 2019 outbreak and served as chronic M. bovis carriers in the recent epizootic. We characterized the pathology and genetics of M. bovis in pronghorn and found that isolates from pronghorn are most similar to those from North American cattle, and more distantly related to isolates from bison and deer. We report that pronghorn are at risk of highly virulent respiratory disease following M. bovis infection, which could have population-level impacts on this sensitive and unique species.


Contributed Oral Presentations
Location: Virtual Date: Time: -