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dc.contributor.advisorChairperson, Graduate Committee: Scott Creelen
dc.contributor.authorBrennan, Angela Lynnen
dc.contributor.otherPaul C. Cross, Megan D. Higgs, W. Henry Edwards, Brandon M. Scurlock, and Scott Creel were co-authors of the article, 'Multiple ways to be dense and transmit disease: patterns in elk aggregation and increasing brucellosis' which is contained within this thesis.en
dc.contributor.otherPaul C. Cross, Megan D. Higgs, and Scott Creel were co-authors of the article, 'Where large groups get larger: relating elk group size distributions to irrigation, openness and wolves' which is contained within this thesis.en
dc.contributor.otherPaul C. Cross, Megan D. Higgs, Jon P. Beckmann, Robert W. Klaver, Brandon M. Scurlock, and Scott Creel were co-authors of the article, 'Inferential consequences of modeling rather than measuring snow accumulation in studies of animal ecology' in the journal 'Ecological applications' which is contained within this thesis.en
dc.contributor.otherPaul C. Cross, David E. Ausband, Andrea Barbknecht, and Scott Creel were co-authors of the article, "Testing automated howling devices in a wintertime wolf survey' in the journal 'Wildlife society bulletin' which is contained within this thesis.en
dc.description.abstractRecent data suggest that elk were the source of brucellosis outbreaks in cattle and that the disease is on the rise in elk across the Greater Yellowstone Area. As the distribution of elk group sizes is often right-skewed and spans several orders of magnitude, the largest elk groups may be driving brucellosis dynamics. To investigate whether the increases in brucellosis could be explained by elk grouping patterns, we examined 21 years of serologic data and three years of aerial surveys to record group sizes across 10 wintering elk populations, and we evaluated the relationships between rates of increase in brucellosis and seven measures of elk aggregation. We also examined the relationships between large elk groups and land use, habitat conditions, levels of predation risk, and snow accumulation. To do this, we used quantile regression to focus on group sizes in the tail of the distribution. We found that brucellosis increased over time in eight of the 10 populations, and that these increases were positively related to all measures of aggregation. We also found that group sizes were larger on irrigated land and as the habitat got more open. Because we were interested in the effects of snow on elk grouping behavior, we also examined the consequences of using snow model predictions in place of direct measurements. We found substantial model prediction uncertainty could directly impact our inferences. Lastly, we tested a noninvasive tool for conducting wolf surveys and found the method was a poor substitute for other techniques currently used during the winter, particularly in areas where pack territories overlap. Overall, our findings suggest that (i) most measures of elk aggregation had similar utility to predict changes in brucellosis over time, (ii) there may be more than one way to be dense and spread disease in populations that are structured by grouping (iii) it may be important to focus on more than one metric of the group size distribution to inform management, and (iv) it is important to consider the implications of prediction uncertainty on inferences when using model predictions as explanatory variables.en
dc.publisherMontana State University - Bozeman, College of Letters & Scienceen
dc.subject.lcshElk populationsen
dc.subject.lcshBrucellosis in animalsen
dc.subject.lcshEnvironmental impact analysisen
dc.titleLinking patterns in elk aggregation and brucellosis to variation in group size, land use, climate and wolvesen
dc.rights.holderCopyright 2014 by Angela Lynn Brennanen
thesis.catalog.ckey2553722en, Graduate Committee: Paul Cross; Megan Higgs; Jay J. Rotellaen

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