Kelly Mulligan, M.Sc. Student

My research focuses on the loss of elk migratory behavior in the East Kootenay Trench, an area within the East Kootenay Region of British Columbia. Elk within this region historically exhibited an altitudinal migration following the summer green-up to higher elevations.  In the last three decades, the Trench has seen a decrease in migrant elk, resulting in increasing elk use of human dominated low elevations. In the same time period, large predators have returned to the landscape and there has been a shift in land use, including increasing clear-cuts and human disturbance (expanding road networks and town extents). The combination of increased predation risk and different sources of anthropogenic disturbance provides an opportunity to better understand the potential reason for elk migration loss within an altered landscape. I will be working with the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations to assess 1) migration hypotheses related to land use changes, predation, and density dependence based on the best available evidence and 2) the hypothesis that shifts in forage availability have diminished the extent of high-quality habitat used by migrant elk by using a resource selection (RSF) approach. The information I gather will be used to inform conservation efforts and minimize human-wildlife conflicts within a changing environment.