Welcome to the Washington Predator-Prey Project Website. While various components of this research have been underway since 2016, we began large-scale data collection across the project this summer.
For my research on carnivore-ungulate interactions, this was the second season of collaring white-tailed deer fawns, and the first season collaring elk calves. Thanks to the hard work of our field crew and collaborators, we deployed 27 radio-tracking collars on fawns and 16 collars on elk calves this year. Combined with the 19 collars deployed on fawns last year, we have monitored a total of 62 neonates for the project so far.
So how do we find these newborn animals to study? Sometimes, we can identify if a doe or cow has young by closely observing her behavior, which can indicate the general location of a fawn or calf. We also monitor the locations of GPS (Global Positioning Satellite) collared adult deer and elk, and can often pinpoint a birth site by a substantial reduction in maternal movement. A subset of GPS collared does and cows are fit with transmitters that alert us when they’ve given birth and mark the location of the birth site. By carefully searching these areas we may find the newborn fawn to collar and study.
Once an animal has been collared, we listen to the radio signal periodically to locate the fawn or calf and check if it is alive. When the collar hasn’t moved for a pre-programmed period of time, the frequency of the radio signal changes to indicate a mortality or dropped collar. We follow this signal to locate the collar and investigate any mortalities to identify the cause of death. Incorporating these data into population models can help us identify which pressures the populations are most sensitive to.
For the next year, we will continue to monitor these and adult ungulate and investigate patterns of mortality and habitat use. Stay tuned to follow our progress get updates from the rest of the team.
- Taylor Ganz