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Summer habitat selection by Dall’s sheep in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska

January 1, 2017

Sexual segregation occurs frequently in sexually dimorphic species, and it may be influenced by differential habitat requirements between sexes or by social or evolutionary mechanisms that maintain separation of sexes regardless of habitat selection. Understanding the degree of sex-specific habitat specialization is important for management of wildlife populations and the design of monitoring and research programs. Using mid-summer aerial survey data for Dall’s sheep (Ovis dalli dalli) in southern Alaska during 1983–2011, we assessed differences in summer habitat selection by sex and reproductive status at the landscape scale in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve (WRST). Males and females were highly segregated socially, as were females with and without young. Resource selection function (RSF) models containing rugged terrain, intermediate values of the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI), and open landcover types best explained resource selection by each sex, female reproductive classes, and all sheep combined. For male and all female models, most coefficients were similar, suggesting little difference in summer habitat selection between sexes at the landscape scale. A combined RSF model therefore may be used to predict the relative probability of resource selection by Dall’s sheep in WRST regardless of sex or reproductive status.

Publication Year 2017
Title Summer habitat selection by Dall’s sheep in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska
DOI 10.1093/jmammal/gyw135
Authors Gretchen H. Roffler, Layne G. Adams, Mark Hebblewhite
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Journal of Mammalogy
Index ID 70186169
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Alaska Science Center Biology WTEB