• Impact of ungulate exclusion on understorey succession in relation to forest management in the Intermountain Western United States

      Pekin, Burak K.; Endress, Bryan A.; Wisdom, Michael J.; Naylor, Bridgett J.; Parks, Catherine G. (2015)
      ...The strength and direction of specific vegetation and diversity responses to ungulate exclusion vary with forest management, and the influence of ungulate exclusion on plant succession is more pronounced in recently thinned and burned sites. Management of wild and domestic ungulates thus needs to account for forest management activities that alter vegetation seral stage and increase the sensitivity of vegetation to the ungulate grazing regime....
    • Impacts of upper respiratory tract disease on olfactory behavior of the Mojave desert tortoise

      Germano, Jennifer M.; Van Zerr, Vanessa E.; Esque, Todd C.; Nussear, Ken E.; Lamberski, Nadine (2014)
      Upper respiratory tract disease (URTD) caused by Mycoplasma agassizii is considered a threat to desert tortoise populations that should be addressed as part of the recovery of the species. Clinical signs can be intermittent and include serous or mucoid nasal discharge and respiratory difficulty when nares are occluded. This nasal congestion may result in a loss of the olfactory sense....
    • Sequential ovulation and fertility of polyoestrus in American black bears (Ursus americanus)

      Himelright, Brendan M.; Moore, Jenna M.; Gonzales, Ramona L.; Mendoza, Alejandra V.; Dye, Penny S.; Schuett, Randall J.; Durrant, Barbara S.; Read, Betsy A.; Spady, Thomas J. (2014)
      American black bears (Ursus americanus) are seasonally polyoestrous and exhibit delayed implantation, which may allow equal and independent fertility of recurrent oestruses of a mating season. We postulated that the luteal inactivity during delayed implantation allows bears to have sequential ovulation during a polyoestrous mating season such that each oestrus of a polyoestrous female will have equivalent fertility, and pregnancy would not preclude subsequent ovulation and superfetation. Controlled mating experiments were conducted on semi-free-ranging female American black bears during three mating seasons, wherein females were bred by different male cohorts in each oestrus. Behavioural observation, vulva score ranking, genetic paternity analysis, gross morphology of ovaries and microscopic morphology of diapaused embryos were used to evaluate the fertility of each subsequent oestrus in polyoestrous females. Oestrus duration, number of successful mounts and median vulva scores were similar between first and subsequent oestruses of the season. Polyoestrus occurred in 81.3% of oestrous females, with a 9.7 ± 5.5 day (mean ± SD) inter-oestrous interval. Sequential ovulation was documented in three polyoestrous females, including one that possessed both a corpus haemorrhagicum and a developed corpus luteum. Among polyoestrous dams, four of nine embryos were conceived in the first oestrus and five of nine in the second oestrus. These results indicate that each oestrus of polyoestrous females is capable of fertility, even if the female is already pregnant from a prior oestrus. Although superfetation was not directly observed in the present study, our results strongly suggest the potential of superfetation in the American black bear and provide novel insight into the complex behavioural and physiological breeding mechanisms of bears. Given that most endangered bear species share similar reproductive traits with American black bears, captive breeding programmes could take advantage of superfetation by mating females with different males at each subsequent oestrus of the season in order to increase the genetic diversity of captive endangered bears.
    • Ungulate browsing maintains shrub diversity in the absence of episodic disturbance in seasonally-arid conifer forest

      Pekin, Burak K.; Wisdom, Michael J.; Endress, Bryan A.; Naylor, Bridgett J.; Parks, Catherine G. (2014)
      Ungulates exert a strong influence on the composition and diversity of vegetation communities. However, little is known about how ungulate browsing pressure interacts with episodic disturbances such as fire and stand thinning. We assessed shrub responses to variable browsing pressure by cattle and elk in fuels treated (mechanical removal of fuels followed by prescribed burning) and non-fuels treated forest sites in northeastern Oregon, US. Seven treatment paddocks were established at each site; three with cattle exclusion and low, moderate and high elk browsing pressure, three with elk exclusion and low, moderate and high cattle browsing pressure, and one with both cattle and elk exclusion. The height, cover and number of stems of each shrub species were recorded at multiple plots within each paddock at the time of establishment and six years later. Changes in shrub species composition over the six year period were explored using multivariate analyses. Generalized Linear Mixed Models were used to determine the effect of browsing pressure on the change in shrub diversity and evenness. Vegetation composition in un-browsed paddocks changed more strongly and in different trajectories than in browsed paddocks at sites that were not fuels treated. In fuels treated sites, changes in composition were minimal for un-browsed paddocks. Shrub diversity and evenness decreased strongly in un-browsed paddocks relative to paddocks with low, moderate and high browsing pressure at non-fuels treated sites, but not at fuels treated sites. These results suggest that in the combined absence of fire, mechanical thinning and ungulate browsing, shrub diversity is reduced due to increased dominance by certain shrub species which are otherwise suppressed by ungulates and/or fuels removal. Accordingly, ungulate browsing, even at low intensities, can be used to suppress dominant shrub species and maintain diversity in the absence of episodic disturbance events.