Species-Specific Scaling to Define and Conserve the Northern Great Plains Region

Scientific Disciplines
Biological Sciences - Terrestrial
Keywords
Ecology
landscape
Montana
University of Montana
northern great plains
wildlife management
spatial scale
prairie
Northern Great Plains North America
scales
great plains
Authors
Years
Volumes
Volume 18, No. 1-4

Species-specific scaling to define and conserve the 
Northern great plains region
Michel T. Kohl**, Boone & Crockett Wildlife Conservation Program, University of Montana, 
Missoula, Montana.
Andrew Jakes*, Faculty of Environmental Design, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta.
Marisa K. Lipsey*, Wildlife Biology Program, University of Montana, Missoula, Montana. 
Rebecca E. Smith*, Wildlife Biology Program, University of Montana, Missoula, Montana.
Kristy Bly. World Wildlife Fund – Northern Great Plains Program, Bozeman, Montana.
Dennis Jorgensen, World Wildlife Fund – Northern Great Plains Program, Bozeman, Montana.
C. Cormack Gates, Faculty of Environmental Design, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta.
Dave E. Naugle, Wildlife Biology Program, University of Montana, Missoula, Montana.
Shawn T. Cleveland, Matador Ranch, The Nature Conservancy, Dodson, Montana.
John C. Carlson, Bureau of Land Management, Billings Field Office, Billings, Montana. 
Kelvin Johnson, Montana Fish, Wildlife, & Parks, Glasgow, Montana.
Prairie ecosystems are in a continuous state of flux, shifting by processes that include 
variable weather patterns and climatic conditions, disturbance regimes, and more recently, 
human-induced modification. Similarly, wildlife resources fluctuate across the landscape 
as a result of these ever-changing conditions; however, human alterations have increased, 
removed, and manipulated the ecological processes of the prairie.  Specifically, the spatial 
scales at which humans manage and interact with the landscape are often inconsistent 
or incompatible with the scales required for the persistence of wildlife populations.  Our 
synthesis demonstrates how the spatial scales at which wildlife in the Northern Great Plains 
of North America operate have been constrained by human intervention. This process of 
anthropogenic scaling has affected the decline of many native wildlife populations and in 
some cases has resulted in the complete extirpation of species from the landscape.  We use 
historical observations and recent quantitative data to describe the primary cause of spatial 
scale alteration for prairie focal species (i.e. plains bison, pronghorn, grassland birds, Greater 
Sage-grouse, black-tailed prairie dogs, swift fox, prairie rattlesnakes) using migration, home 
range, distribution, and dispersal distances as metrics.  We then describe the role that spatial 
scale plays in wildlife management of the prairie landscape from the non-profit, state, and 
federal perspective and how these entities are managing at the scales of each focal species.