Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2016

Document Type

Thesis

Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors

Department

Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

First Advisor

Dr. Deserai Crow

Second Advisor

Carol Kearns

Third Advisor

Carol Wessman

Fourth Advisor

Piet Johnson

Abstract

The Northern Rockies contain upwards of 10 million acres of the most pristine land left in the Lower 48 states. A continuous landscape is necessary to preserve the function and beauty of the ecosystems found in this area. The High Divide is an essential wildlife corridor that enables the movement of organisms to and from three of these major ecosystems in the Northern Rockies. In recent years, residential development has increased fragmentation of the High Divide, impeding animal movement through the area. This restriction is especially significant for gray wolves (Canis lupus) and grizzly bears (Ursus arctos horribilis) as they are apex predators that have large movement patterns and major roles in ecosystem function and biodiversity. This project analyzes the issue by mapping predator ranges and residential development data using ArcGIS to visualize the extent of overlap. It then investigates the effectiveness of current and alternative management schemes through a policy analysis to determine what strategies are most effective in conserving wolves and grizzly bears with minimal landscape fragmentation while also protecting people and their property.