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Foraging Ecology of Mountain Sheep: Implications for Habitat Management

Kenneth L. Risenhoover and James A. Bailey
The Journal of Wildlife Management
Vol. 49, No. 3 (Jul., 1985), pp. 797-804
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Wildlife Society
DOI: 10.2307/3801714
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3801714
Page Count: 8
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Foraging Ecology of Mountain Sheep: Implications for Habitat Management
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Abstract

Interacting effects of proximity to escape terrain and habitat visibility upon habitat preference, behavior, and foraging efficiency of mountain sheep (Ovis canadensis) were studied. Sheep preferred open habitats with a high density of acceptable forages and avoided habitats with vegetation obstructing visibility. Ewes and rams were more alert than were juveniles during foraging periods, and ewes with young lambs were most alert. Intra-group spacing was positively correlated with habitat visibility. Foraging efficiency was negatively related to distance from escape terrain and positively related to habitat visibility and to group size. Foraging in large groups (> 10 sheep) appears to be a behavioral adaptation enabling sheep to utilize less secure habitats.

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