Landscape Ecology

, Volume 28, Issue 3, pp 427–437

Confounded winter and spring phenoclimatology on large herbivore ranges

  • David Christianson
  • Robert W. Klaver
  • Arthur Middleton
  • Matthew Kauffman
Research Article

Abstract

Annual variation in winter severity and growing season vegetation dynamics appear to influence the demography of temperate herbivores but parsing winter from spring effects requires independent metrics of environmental conditions specific to each season. We tested for independence in annual variation amongst four common metrics used to describe winter severity and early growing season vegetation dynamics across the entire spatial distribution of elk (Cervus elaphus) in Wyoming from 1989 to 2006. Winter conditions and early growing season dynamics were correlated in a specific way. Winters with snow cover that ended early tended to be followed by early, but slow, rises in the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI), while long winters with extended periods of snow cover were often followed by late and rapid rises in NDVI. Across the 35 elk ranges, 0.4–86.8 % of the variation in the rate of increase in NDVI’s in spring was explained by the date snow cover disappeared from SNOTEL stations. Because phenoclimatological metrics are correlated across seasons and shifting due to climate change, identifying environmental constraints on herbivore fitness, particularly migratory species, is more difficult than previously recognized.

Keywords

Climate Elk Green-up Normalized difference vegetation index Phenology Snow Spring Winter 

References

  1. Adamczewski JZ, Gates CC, Soutar BM, Hudson RJ (1988) Limiting effects of snow on seasonal habitat use and diets of caribou (Rangifer tarandus groenlandicus) on Coats Island, Northwest Territories, Canada. Can J Zool (Revue Canadienne de Zoologie) 66:1986–1996CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Adamczewski J, Hudson R, Gates C (1993) Winter energy balance and activity of female caribou on Coats Island, Northwest territories: the relative importance of foraging and body reserves. Can J Zool (Revue Canadienne de Zoologie) 71:1221–1229CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Adamczewski JZ, Flood PF, Gunn A (1997) Seasonal patterns in body composition and reproduction of female muskoxen (Ovibos moschatus). J Zool 241:245–269CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Adams LG (2003) Marrow fat deposition and skeletal growth in caribou calves. J Wildl Manag 67:20–24CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bartsch A, Kumpula T, Forbes BC, Stammler F (2010) Detection of snow surface thawing and refreezing in the Eurasian Arctic with QuikSCAT: implications for reindeer herding. Ecol Appl 20:2346–2358PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Box EO, Holben BN, Kalb V (1989) Accuracy of the AVHRR vegetation index as a predictor of biomass, primary productivity and net CO2 flux. Vegetation 80:71–89CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Brelurut A, Theriez M, Bechet G (1995) Effects of winter feeding level on the performance of red deer calves (Cervus elaphus). Animal Sci 60:151–156CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Cassirer EF, Sinclair ARE (2007) Dynamics of pneumonia in a bighorn sheep metapopulation. J Wildl Manag 71:1080–1088CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Christianson D, Creel S (2008) Risk effects in elk: sex-specific responses in grazing and browsing due to predation risk from wolves. Behav Ecol 19:1258–1266CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Christianson D, Creel S (2009) Fecal chlorophyll describes the link between primary production and consumption in a terrestrial herbivore. Ecol Appl 19:1323–1335PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. CluttonBrock TH, Illius AW, Wilson K, Grenfell BT, Maccoll ADC, Albon SD (1997) Stability and instability in ungulate populations: an empirical analysis. Am Nat 149:195–219CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Cote SD, Festa-Bianchet M (2001) Birthdate, mass and survival in mountain goat kids: effects of maternal characteristics and forage quality. Oecologia 127:230–238CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Coulson T, Catchpole EA, Albon SD, Morgan BJT, Pemberton JM, Clutton-Brock TH, Crawley MJ, Grenfell BT (2001) Age, sex, density, winter weather, and population crashes in Soay sheep. Science 292:1528–1531PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Crampe JP, Gaillard JM, Loison A (2002) Winter snowfall: a variable factor in recruitment by Isard populations (Rupicapra pyrenaics pyrenaica). Can J Zool (Revue Canadienne de Zoologie) 80:1306–1312CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Delgiudice GD, Singer FJ, Seal US (1991) Physiological assessment of winter nutritional deprivation in elk of Yellowstone National Park. J Wildl Manag 55:653–664CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Dunne JA, Harte J, Taylor KJ (2003) Subalpine meadow flowering phenology responses to climate change: integrating experimental and gradient methods. Ecol Monogr 73:69–86CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Dye DG, Tucker CJ (2003) Seasonality and trends of snow-cover, vegetation index, and temperature in northern Eurasia. Geophys Res Lett 30(7):1405CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Eberhardt LL, White PJ, Garrott RA, Houston DB (2007) A seventy-year history of trends in Yellowstone’s northern elk herd. J Wildl Manag 71:594–602CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Eidenshink JC (1992) The 1990 conterminous U. S. AVHRR data set. Photogramm Eng Remote Sens 58:809–813Google Scholar
  20. Galen C, Stanton ML (1995) Responses of snowbed plant-species to changes in growing-season length. Ecology 76:1546–1557CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Garel M, Solberg EJ, Saether BE, Herfindal I, Hogda KA (2006) The length of growing season and adult sex ratio affect sexual size dimorphism in moose. Ecology 87:745–758PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Gedir JV, Hudson RJ (2000) Seasonal foraging behavioural compensation in reproductive wapiti hinds (Cervus elaphus canadensis). Appl Animal Behav Sci 67:137–150CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Griffith B, Douglas DC, Walsh NE, Young DD, McCabe TR, Russell DE, White RG, Cameron RD, Whitten KR, Douglas DC, Reynolds PE, and Rhode EB (2002) The Porcupine caribou herd. In: Arctic Refuge coastal plain terrestrial wildlife research summaries, Biological Sciences Report, USGS/BRD/BSR-2002-0001. U.S. Geological Survey, Biological Resources Division, Reston pp 8–37Google Scholar
  24. Grippa M, Kergoat L, Le Toan T, Mognard NM, Delbart N, L’Hermitte J, Vicente-Serrano SM (2005) The impact of snow depth and snowmelt on the vegetation variability over central Siberia. Geophys Res Lett 32:L21412CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Gustine DD, Parker KL, Lay RJ, Gillingham MP, Heard DC (2006) Calf survival of woodland caribou in a multi-predator ecosystem. Wildlife Monogr 165:1–32CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Hamel S, Garel M, Festa-Bianchet M, Gaillard JM, Cote SD (2009) Spring normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) predicts annual variation in timing of peak faecal crude protein in mountain ungulates. J Appl Ecol 46:582–589CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Harris G, Thirgood S, Hopcraft JGC, Cromsigt JPGM, Berger J (2009) Global decline in aggregated migrations of large terrestrial mammals. Endanger Species Res 7:55–76CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Hebblewhite M, Merrill E, McDermid G (2008) A multi-scale test of the forage maturation hypothesis in a partially migratory ungulate population. Ecol Monogr 78:141–166CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Hegel TM, Mysterud A, Huettmann F, Stenseth NC (2010) Interacting effect of wolves and climate on recruitment in a northern mountain caribou population. Oikos 119:1453–1461CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Herfindal I, Saether BE, Solberg EJ, Andersen R, Hogda KA (2006) Population characteristics predict responses in moose body mass to temporal variation in the environment. J Animal Ecol 75:1110–1118CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Jedrzejewski W, Jedrzejewska B, Okarma H, Ruprecht AL (1992) Wolf predation and snow cover as mortality factors in the ungulate community of the Bialowieza-National-Park, Poland. Oecologia 90:27–36CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Jedrzejewski W, Schmidt K, Theuerkauf J, Jedrzejewska B, Selva N, Zub K, Szymura L (2002) Kill rates and predation by wolves on ungulate populations in Bialowieza Primeval Forest (Poland). Ecology (Washington DC) 83:1341–1356Google Scholar
  33. Jonsson P, Eklundh L (2004) TIMESAT—a program for analyzing time-series of satellite sensor data. Comput Geosci 30:833–845CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Jonsson AM, Eklundh L, Hellstrom M, Barring L, Jonsson P (2010) Annual changes in MODIS vegetation indices of Swedish coniferous forests in relation to snow dynamics and tree phenology. Remote Sens Environ 114:2719–2730CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Kudo G (1992) Performance and phenology of alpine herbs along a snow-melting gradient. Ecol Res 7:297–304CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Langvatn R, Albon SD, Burkey T, CluttonBrock TH (1996) Climate, plant phenology and variation in age of first reproduction in a temperate herbivore. J Animal Ecol 65:653–670CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Larter NC, Nagy JA (2001) Calf production, calf survival, and recruitment of muskoxen on Banks Island during a period of changing population density from 1986 to 1999. Arctic 54:394–406Google Scholar
  38. Lindstrom J (1999) Early development and fitness in birds and mammals. Trends Ecol Evol 14:343–348PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Martinka CJ (1967) Mortality of northern Montana pronghorns in a severe winter. J Wildl Manag 31:159–164CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Murtaugh PA (2007) Simplicity and complexity in ecological data analysis. Ecology 88:56–62PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Mysterud A, Ostbye E (2006) Effect of climate and density on individual and population growth of roe deer (Capreolus capreolus) at northern latitudes: the Lier valley, Norway. Wildl Biol 12:321–329CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Mysterud A, Langvatn R, Yoccoz NG, Stenseth NC (2001) Plant phenology, migration and geographical variation in body weight of a large herbivore: the effect of a variable topography. J Animal Ecol 70:915–923CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Narasimhan R, Stow D (2010) Daily MODIS products for analyzing early season vegetation dynamics across the North Slope of Alaska. Remote Sens Environ 114:1251–1262CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Parker KL, Barboza PS, Gillingham MP (2009) Nutrition integrates environmental responses of ungulates. Funct Ecol 23:57–69CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Pettorelli N, Vik JO, Mysterud A, Gaillard JM, Tucker CJ, Stenseth NC (2005a) Using the satellite-derived NDVI to assess ecological responses to environmental change. Trends Ecol Evol 20:503–510PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Pettorelli N, Weladji RB, Holand Ãy, Mysterud A, Breie H, Stenseth NC (2005b) The relative role of winter and spring conditions: linking climate and landscape-scale plant phenology to alpine reindeer body mass. Biol Lett 1:24–26PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Pettorelli N, Pelletier F, von Hardenberg A, Festa-Bianchet M, Cote SD (2007) Early onset of vegetation growth vs. rapid green-up: impacts on juvenile mountain ungulates. Ecology 88:381–390PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Porter WP, Budaraju S, Stewart WE, Ramankutty N (2000) Calculating climate effects on birds and mammals: impacts on biodiversity, conservation, population parameters, and global community structure. Am Zool 40:597–630CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Post E, Stenseth NC (1999) Climatic variability, plant phenology, and northern ungulates. Ecology 80:1322–1339CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Post E, Forchhammer MC, Stenseth NC, Callaghan TV (2001) The timing of life-history events in a changing climate. Proc R Soc Lond Ser B Biol Sci 268:15–23CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Rasmussen HB, Wittemyer G, Douglas-Hamilton I (2006) Predicting time-specific changes in demographic processes using remote-sensing data. J Appl Ecol 43:366–376CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Reed B, Budde M, Spencer P, Miller AE (2009) Integration of MODIS-derived metrics to assess interannual variability in snowpack, lake ice, and NDVI in southwest Alaska. Remote Sens Environ 113:1443–1452CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Russell DE, Gerhart KL, White RG, Wetering DVD (1998) Detection of early pregnancy in caribou: evidence for embryonic mortality. J Wildl Manag 62:1066–1075CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Ryan SJ, Knechtel CU, Getz WM (2007) Ecological cues, gestation length, and birth timing in African buffalo (Syncerus caffer). Behav Ecol 18:635–644CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Sawyer H, Kauffman MJ (2011) Stopover ecology of a migratory ungulate. J Anim Ecol 80:1078–1087PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Shin HT, Hudson RJ, Gao XH, Suttie JM (2000) Nutritional requirements and management strategies for farmed deer—Review. Asian Australas J Animal Sci 13:561–573Google Scholar
  57. Simard MA, Coulson T, Gingras A, Cote SD (2010) Influence of density and climate on population dynamics of a large herbivore under harsh environmental conditions. J Wildl Manag 74:1671–1685CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Singer FJ, Harting A, Symonds KK, Coughenour MB (1997) Density dependence, compensation, and environmental effects on elk calf mortality in Yellowstone National Park. J Wildl Manag 61:12–25CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Smith BL (1998) Antler size and winter mortality of elk: effects of environment, birth year, and parasites. J Mammal 79:1038–1044CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Smith DW, Drummer TD, Murphy KM, Guernsey DS, Evans SB (2004) Winter prey selection and estimation of wolf kill rates in Yellowstone National Park, 1995–2000. J Wildl Manag 68:153–166CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Solberg EJ, Jordhoy P, Strand O, Aanes R, Loison A, Saether BE, Linnell JDC (2001) Effects of density-dependence and climate on the dynamics of a Svalbard reindeer population. Ecography 24:441–451CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Stenseth NC, Mysterud A (2002) Climate, changing phenology, and other life history and traits: nonlinearity and match-mismatch to the environment. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 99:13379–13381PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Stenseth NC, Ottersen G, Hurrell JW, Mysterud A, Lima M, Chan KS, Yoccoz NG, Adlandsvik B (2003) Studying climate effects on ecology through the use of climate indices: the North Atlantic Oscillation, El Nino Southern Oscillation and beyond. Proc R Soc Lond Ser B Biol Sci 270:2087–2096CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Studer S, Stockli R, Appenzeller C, Vidale PL (2007) A comparative study of satellite and ground-based phenology. Int J Biometeorol 51:405–414PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Swets DL, Reed BC, Rowland JD, and Marko SE (1999) A weighted least-squares approach to temporal NDVI smoothing. 1999 ASPRS Annual Conference: From Image to Information. American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing, Portland. May 17–21Google Scholar
  66. Thomas DC (1982) The relationship between fertility and fat reserves of Peary caribou. Can J Zool 60:597–602CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Tyler NJC (2010) Climate, snow, ice, crashes, and declines in populations of reindeer and caribou (Rangifer tarandus L.). Ecol Monogr 80:197–219CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Wairimu S, Hudson R (1993) Foraging dynamics of wapiti stags (Cervus elaphus) during compensatory growth. Appl Animal Behav Sci 36:65–79CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Wairimu S, Hudson RJ, Price MA (1992) Catch-up growth of yearling wapiti stags (Cervus elaphus). Can J Animal Sci 72:619–631CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Watkins WG, Hudson RJ, Fargey PLJ (1991) Compensatory growth of wapiti (Cervus elaphus) on aspen parkland ranges. Can J Zool (Revue Canadienne de Zoologie) 69:1682–1688CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Wipf S, Rixen C (2010) A review of snow manipulation experiments in arctic and alpine tundra ecosystems. Polar Res 29:95–109CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Christianson
    • 1
  • Robert W. Klaver
    • 2
  • Arthur Middleton
    • 3
  • Matthew Kauffman
    • 4
  1. 1.School of Natural Resources and the EnvironmentUniversity of ArizonaTucsonUSA
  2. 2.U. S. Geological Survey Earth Resources Observation and Science Center (EROS)Sioux FallsUSA
  3. 3.Wyoming Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Department of Zoology and Physiology and Program in EcologyUniversity of WyomingLaramieUSA
  4. 4.U.S Geological Survey, Wyoming Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Department of Zoology and PhysiologyUniversity of WyomingLaramieUSA

Personalised recommendations