Funded Research Projects: WILDLIFE SCIENCE

Population dynamics of forest carnivores in Denali

Research Sponsored By: USDI National Park Service
Principal Investigator: Laura Prugh
Project Description
The objective of this agreement is to support research that will increase our understanding of factors affecting the distribution and abundance of carnivores in Denali National Park and Preserve. The project will use methods developed previously by the Principal Investigator to track the distribution, abundance, and habitat partitioning among forest carnivores in Denali. Winter surveys of carnivore tracks in snow encountered along established routes will be conducted, and fecal DNA-based estimates of coyote and fox abundance will be obtained from scats collected along track survey routes. Estimates of prey abundance will be obtained by ongoing surveys of hare pellets on established plots. Coyote movement patterns and survival rates will be examined by radio-collaring and monitoring collared coyotes. Funds provided through this agreement will be used for graduate student support, technician salary, travel, and field supplies. Additional funding for student support and research costs will come from other sources (e.g., startup funds to the PI). NPS support up to $25,000 per year may be provided pending availability of funds. The knowledge gained through this research will have far-reaching benefits to the public through increased understanding of the ecology of forest carnivores in northern regions and the interrelationships of complex predator-prey communities. Management of large carnivores in Alaska is an extremely contentious issue and the subject of intense public interest. The information gained through this research will inform the public, policy makers, and state and federal agencies and will facilitate better science-based decision-making. NPS funds are critical in launching the project and will be used to leverage additional funding from other sources (e.g., National Science Foundation).