Masters Thesis

Elk habitat use and group size in the Grass Lake area of Siskiyou County, California

Elk habitat use and group size were studied during winter and spring near Grass Lake in Siskiyou County, California, from September 1982 through June 1984. Habitat use was based on visual observations of elk from December 1982 through June 1983 and December 1983 through June 1984, and telemetry-locations of three cow elk equipped with transmitters from February through June of 1984. Based on data from both methods, elk used meadows more (P<0.05) than their availability. Elk use of some habitats changed seasonally. Woodland use declined from winter to spring, concomitant with increased meadow use. However, elk use of mixed conifers and grasslands did not change from winter to spring. Some sighting-based estimates of habitat use by elk were different from telemetry-based estimates. Sighting-based estimates of mixed conifer use were less (P<0.05) than corresponding telemetry-based estimates. Sighting-based estimates of meadow use for Spring and the Year of 1984 were greater (P<0.05) than corresponding telemetry-based estimates. Sighting-based estimates of use for all other habitats were equivalent (P<0.05) to corresponding telemetry-based estimates of use. Elk mean group size was 15.9 (SD=l3.4, range: 1-46). Mean group size was 19.8 (SD=l6.0) during winter and 14.7 (SD=ll.6) during spring. Group size in meadows was significantly greater (P<0.05), and group size in mixed conifers was significantly less (P<0.05) than the mean group size for the study period.

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