Jason J Gundlach; University of Nevada, Reno;; Kelley M. Stewart, Cody Schroeder, Joe Bennett

Populations of mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) are in decline throughout the Intermountain West for a multitude of reasons, including competition from wild and domestic herbivores, energy and urban development, and expansion of woody plants. A primary conservation concern for mule deer in the Great Basin ecosystem is expansion and infilling of Single-leaf pinyon pine (Pinus monophylla) and Utah juniper (Juniperus occidentalis), which provide minimal nutritional value to mule deer while outcompeting herbaceous vegetation in the understory. We investigated how removal of these trees affects movement patterns of mule deer, specifically on winter range. We captured 36 adult female mule deer in the Toiyabe Range of central Nevada from April 2018 through March 2019, with all individuals being fitted with GPS collars. Pinyon-juniper trees on mule deer winter range were removed by the U.S. Forest Service with an impact area of roughly 2,600 acres. Data obtained from GPS collars was modeled within a resource selection function framework utilizing mixed-effects logistic regression. Understanding which habitat covariates have the most predictive influence on movement for this population following a pinyon-juniper removal treatment will allow wildlife managers the ability to better assess areas of ecological importance for mule deer populations throughout the Intermountain West.

Ungulate Resource Selection   Student Paper InPerson Presentation