Ungulates and Climate Change: an Examination of the Potential Impacts
Affiliation: USGS Wyoming Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit
Documents & Resources
The influence of climate change on migratory ungulates of the Rocky Mountains remains uncertain. As climate change leads to advancing phenology, trophic mismatches can occur when migratory individuals arrive on summer range behind the optimal phenological stage of their food resources. In addition, warming during spring and summer can reduce the temporal availability of high quality forage. In this talk, Dr. Kauffman will discuss the potential influence of climate change on ungulates via three case studies involving migratory moose, mule deer, and elk in Wyoming. In moose, he will describe factors that influence the timing of spring migration for GPS-collared individuals, results which strongly influence the likelihood of trophic mismatches in this species. In mule deer, he will describe how migrating animals make use of stopover sites to stay in pace with plant phenology as it advances from low elevation winter ranges to high elevation summer ranges. In the elk study, he will describe changes in climate and plant phenology in northwest Wyoming over the last 20 years that appear to be influencing pregnancy and calf recruitment of migrants, but not residents. Finally, Dr. Kauffman will discuss some recent work that connects recent regional warming to regional declines in moose calf production in Wyoming, Utah, and Colorado.