SELECTION OF RESOURCES BY PRONGHORN NEAR LARGE-SCALE DISTURBANCE
|Megan Osterhout; University of Nevada, Reno; firstname.lastname@example.org; Kelley Stewart, Cody Schroeder, Brian Wakeling|
Pronghorn (Antelocapra americana) are a native species in the Great Basin that occupy open habitats, such as sagebrush steppe and grasslands. Resource selection and movements of pronghorn are likely driven, in part, by water sources and open terrain that allows for escape from coursing predators. Large-scale mineral extraction such as open-pit mining, causes large-scale disturbance of landscapes occupied by pronghorn. The Cortez Mountains in the central region of Nevada are impacted by an active open pit mine located at the base of the mountain; an area used extensively by a resident population of pronghorn. Our objective was to evaluate how open-pit gold mining affected movement patterns and selection of resources by pronghorn. We captured 12 female pronghorn in the Cortez Range in January 2018. Each animal was fitted with a Vectronic GPS collar that collected six location points per day. We recorded 35,000 locations over two years, with an average distance from the mining boundary of 4,653 meters and 42% of the locations fell within the boundary. Pronghorn do not appear to avoid habitat near the mine, suggesting they may have adapted to living in a high-disturbance environment.