Juvenile Mortality and Parturition Site Selection in Sierra Nevada Bighorn Sheep

MS Thesis, Shannon Forshee

I am in the preliminary stages of developing a monitoring plan for juvenile survival of Sierra Nevada Bighorn Sheep, including the use of GPS collars and VITs to track pregnant ewes’ movements, parturition site selection and neonatal survival. These collars will be deployed in the spring of 2016 with constant behavioral and survival monitoring post-deployment. As we collect data on parturition site selection from the VIT’S, I will begin to develop a predictive parturition resource selection function that can be incorporated into California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW)’s translocation protocols and location selection criteria. Additionally, I will be developing an algorithm for detecting parturition using GPS movements so that CDFW can more accurately predict parturition events for collared females. Over the course of the study I will collect mortality data on juveniles by performing necropsies and developing a time-to-event survival model to understand how age, body condition, time of year and specific microsite locations affect mortality.