Bighorn sheep habitat use and selection near an urban environment

Esther S. Rubin, Walter M Boyce, Chris J. Stermer, Steven G. Torres

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

31 Scopus citations

Abstract

To further understand the impact of urban development on wildlife populations, we examined habitat use and selection by female bighorn sheep Ovis canadensis in two endangered subpopulations near a metropolitan area in southern California. One subpopulation, which had previously been found to have low reproductive success, selected urban environments while the other did not use urban areas. In the subpopulation that used urban areas, females had smaller core activity areas and selected lower elevations and gentler slopes. These females used urban sources of water but a clear relationship between levels of urban use and periods of increased water need was not evident. Diet quality was higher among females that selected urban areas, and this increase was correlated with the level of urban use. Thus, optimal foraging behavior may have contributed to the selection of urban areas. Urban use was lowest during peak months of parturition, suggesting that reproductive strategies may also have influenced temporal patterns of urban use. Although urban areas provided bighorn sheep with forage and water resources, the use of these areas may have substantial costs. For example, females using urban areas had internal parasites that were not found elsewhere in the Peninsular Ranges.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)251-263
Number of pages13
JournalBiological Conservation
Volume104
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 2002

Keywords

  • Bighorn sheep
  • Habitat selection
  • Habitat use
  • Ovis canadensis
  • Urban

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation

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