Spatial population structure of Yellowstone bison

Journal of Wildlife Management
By:  and 



Increases in Yellowstone National Park, USA, bison (Bison bison) numbers and shifts in seasonal distribution have resulted in more frequent movements of bison beyond park boundaries and development of an interagency management plan for the Yellowstone bison population. Implementation of the plan under the adaptive management paradigm requires an understanding of the spatial and temporal structure of the population. We used polythetic agglomerative hierarchical cluster analysis of radiolocations obtained from free-ranging bison to investigate seasonal movements and aggregations. We classified radiolocations into 4 periods: annual, peak rut (15 Jul–15 Sep), extended rut (1 Jun–31 Oct), and winter (1 Nov–31 May). We documented spatial separation of Yellowstone bison into 2 segments, the northern and central herds, during all periods. The estimated year-round exchange rate (4.85–5.83%) of instrumented bison varied with the fusion strategy employed. We did not observe exchange between the 2 segments during the peak rut and it varied during the extended rut (2.15–3.23%). We estimated a winter exchange of 4.85–7.77%. The outcome and effectiveness of management actions directed at Yellowstone bison may be affected by spatial segregation and herd affinity within the population. Reductions based on total population size, but not applied to the entire population, may adversely affect one herd while having little effect on the other. Similarly, management actions targeting a segment of the population may benefit from the spatial segregation exhibited.

Study Area

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Spatial population structure of Yellowstone bison
Series title Journal of Wildlife Management
DOI 10.2193/2005-735
Volume 71
Issue 5
Year Published 2007
Language English
Publisher The Wildlife Society
Contributing office(s) Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center
Description 8 p.
First page 1531
Last page 1538
Country United States
State Wyoming
Other Geospatial Yellowstone National Park
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
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