Initiating GPS & VHF Telemetry Studies on Mountain Ungulates in the Greater Yellowstone Area

Scientific Disciplines
Biological Sciences - Terrestrial
Montana State University
Yellowstone national park
Greater yellowstone ecosystem
greater yellowstone area
bighorn sheep
mountain goat
mountain goats
Ovis canadensis
Oreamnos americanus
Mountain Ungulate Research Initiative
telemetry studies
Volume 18, No. 1-4

Initiating gps & vhf telemetry studies on 
Mountain ungulates in the greater yellowstone 
Jesse D. DeVoe*, Ecology Department, Montana State University, Bozeman, Montana 59717
Robert A. Garrott, Ecology Department, Montana State University, Bozeman, Montana 59717
Telemetry studies on bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis) and mountain goats (Oreamnos 
americanus) in the greater Yellowstone area (GYA) are relatively rare, especially in 
comparison to other large mammals. There is therefore a significant dearth of detailed 
information on mountain ungulate demographic and spatial ecology as well as competition 
dynamics between the non-native mountain goat and the native bighorn sheep. The Mountain 
Ungulate Research Initiative is seeking to gain this valuable management and conservation 
information by initiating GPS and VHF radio telemetry studies across the GYA. We have 
selected ten study sites that represent the varying ecological settings of this ecosystem 
with differences in climate, geology, herd size, disease history, land use and management, 
migratory and non-migratory herds, sympatric and allopatric herds, and high and low 
elevation ranges.  In addition, we have developed a dual collar, multiple deployment strategy 
to efficiently maximize collection of ecological data and support long-term research goals. 
This includes the deployment of a GPS collar simultaneously with a VHF collar for each 
animal instrumented. After two years of fine spatial- and temporal-scale data collection 
the GPS collars will release for recovery while the VHF collars will remain on animals to 
obtain an additional five years of demographic data. The recovered GPS collars will then be 
refurbished and redeployed with new VHF collars on additional animals. The presentation 
will describe these telemetry studies and strategies, as well as report on the progress of current 
and planned telemetry study efforts.