Maria Didkowsky

Picture42Scales of forage selection by ungulates in Aspen Parkland

Mixed herbivore grazing regimes are believed to be more sustainable for natural rangelands, though little research exists to show how species cope with mixed species guilds. I conducted a study on native ungulate foraging selection patterns in Aspen Parkland. I tested whether body size and physiology affects selection of bison (Bison bison), elk (Cervus elaphus), and mule deer (Odoceilus hemionus) at three scales: community, patches, and the bite in a mixed guild, and experimentally tested how a mixed feeder (elk) responds to the foraging effects of previous foraging by a grazer and selective feeder. Results showed that species did not respond to scales in proportion to body size, and that native ungulate guilds show evidence of facilitation in rotations led by large grazers. My results lend evidence of how native ungulates would have existed naturally in aspen parkland, and how they respond to vegetation through selection at multiple scales.