An Initial Inquiry Into Mountain Ungulate Space Use Within the Greater Yellowstone Area


  • Blake Lowrey Ecology Department, Montana State University, Bozeman, MT
  • Robert A. Garrott Ecology Department, Montana State University, Bozeman, MT
  • Doug McWhirter Wyoming Game and Fish Department, Cody, WY
  • Patrick J. White Yellowstone Center for Resources, Yellowstone National Park, WY
  • Jay J. Rotella Ecology Department, Montana State University, Bozeman, MT


The expansion of mountain goats (Oreamnos americanus) throughout the Greater Yellowstone Area (GYA) has continued since their initial introduction in the 1940’s. Mountain goats occupy similar habitats as native bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis) and harbor pathogens known to be detrimental to bighorn sheep recovery efforts. In 2006 the Greater Yellowstone Area Mountain Ungulate Project initiated a large-scale collaring effort to enhance our understanding of the spatial dynamics of both species and the potential impacts of mountain goat range expansion on regional bighorn sheep. The research is unique in spatial scale and encompasses ten study areas with examples of both sympatric and allopatric mountain ungulate populations. To date we have instrumented 122 individuals (76 BHS and 46 MTGs) with GPS collars and have recovered 45 collars (22 BHS and 23 MTGs) from the field. Initial inquiries into space use across species and study areas with respect to seasonal migrations and elevational changes will be discussed. An early investigation of the heterogeneity in mountain ungulate space use and movement strategies throughout the GYA will help to inform future capture efforts and provide insights into mountain ungulate competition across space and time.






Montana Chapter of The Wildlife Society [Abstracts]