Elk and Bison Grazing Ecology in the San Luis Valley, Colorado

Science Center Objects

Managers need information on the grazing ecology of bison and elk in the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve to develop science-based management alternatives.

Great Sand Dunes National Park.

The Great Sand Dunes National Park with the San Luis mountains in the background. 

This study will determine elk and bison population status and movements, effects of herbivory, and suitable habitat and population potential in the park. From these data scientists will develop an elk/bison grazing model that includes grazing as a significant natural ecological process and protects sensitive native plant communities. The study will also provide information for developing a predictive model to be used in a planning process for management agencies, and includes monitoring the effects of treatments and new experiments on the distribution and movements of elk.

Image: Elk (Cervus elaphus)

Male elk in front of a female elk lying in the grass. Public domain.