Seminar – Fear, Forage, and Snowfall: Deer Habitat Selection and Population Dynamics in Alaska’s Temperate Rainforest

Sophie Gilbert holding one of the subjects of her research: a Sitka black-tailed deer fawn.

Sophie Gilbert holding one of the subjects of her research: a Sitka black-tailed deer fawn.

This Friday (9 Oct, 2015) at noon, Wild49 lab member Sophie Gilbert will present a public seminar in the Biological Sciences building room M149. Check out the summary of her talk:

The coastal temperate rainforest is one of the rarest ecosystems in the world, and a major portion of the global total is found in Southeast Alaska. In this ecosystem, Sitka black-tailed deer are the dominant large herbivore, influencing large carnivores that prey on deer such as wolves and bears, as well as plant species and communities through browsing. In addition, deer play an important economic and cultural role for humans in Southeast Alaska, making up the large majority of terrestrial subsistence protein harvested each year as well as providing the backbone of a thriving tourism industry built around sport hunting. Given the importance of deer in this system, there remain a surprisingly large number of gaps in our knowledge of deer ecology in Southeast Alaska. These knowledge gaps are potentially troubling in light of ongoing industrial timber-harvest across the region, which greatly alters habitat characteristics and value to wildlife. This talk covers the results of a 4-year research project to quantify 1) patterns of reproduction and fawn survival, 2) population dynamics in response to environmental variability, and the underlying drivers of spatial selection during 3) reproduction and 4) winter. In addition, the talk will include the results of a recent wolf-deer-habitat modeling effort aimed at understanding outcomes of future land-use, climate, and trapping scenarios on wolf abundance.

Twin fawns with radio collars, photo by Sophie Gilbert.

Twin fawns with radio collars, photo by Sophie Gilbert.