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Theses Doctoral

Using Anthropogenic Parameters at Multiple Scales to Inform Conservation and Management of a Large Carnivore

Wynn-Grant, Rae Jackson

Human influence on the environment is becoming increasingly pervasive across the globe, and can drastically impact ecological patterns and processes. For many terrestrial wildlife species, human influence can fragment critical habitat, increase mortality, and threaten habitat connectivity and ultimately the persistence of wildlife populations. This dissertation aims to use multiple conservation ecology methods and tools to test the impact of human influence on the population dynamics of a large carnivore in a human-dominated landscape. To assess the impact of human activity on carnivore ecology, a series of empirical studies were conducted on a small population of American black bear (Ursus americanus) in the Western Great Basin, USA. A long-term dataset including geographic locations of animal habitat choices as well as mortality locations were used in multiple statistical models that tested the response of black bears to human activity. These analyses were conducted at multiple spatial and temporal resolutions to reveal nuances potentially overlooked if analyses were limited to a single resolution. Individual studies, presented as dissertation chapters, examine the relationships between human activity and carnivore ecology. Collectively, the results of these studies find black bear ecology to be highly sensitive to the magnitude and spatial composition of human activity in the Lake Tahoe Basin, observable at both coarse and fine spatial resolutions. The results presented in this study on the influence of human activity on large carnivore population dynamics allow for a more thorough understanding of the various ways common conservation ecology methods and tools can be used to evaluate human-wildlife relationships.

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More Information

Academic Units
Ecology, Evolution, and Environmental Biology
Thesis Advisors
Sterling, Eleanor J.
Ginsberg, Joshua R.
Degree
Ph.D., Columbia University
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