Oryx

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Oryx (2009), 43:149-153 Cambridge University Press
Copyright © Fauna & Flora International 2009
doi:10.1017/S0030605307002293

Short Communications

A mega-herd of more than 200,000 Mongolian gazelles Procapra gutturosa: a consequence of habitat quality


Kirk A. Olsona1 p1 c1, Thomas Muellera2 p2, Sanjaa Bolortsetsega3, Peter Leimgrubera4, William F. Fagana5 and Todd K. Fullera1

a1 Department of Natural Resources Conservation, 160 Holdsworth Way, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA 01003-9285, USA.
a2 Graduate Program in Behavior, Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics, University of Maryland, College Park, USA.
a3 Wildlife Conservation Society, Mongolia Country Program, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.
a4 Conservation Ecology Center, National Zoological Park, Smithsonian Institution, Front Royal, USA.
a5 Department of Biology, University of Maryland, College Park, USA.
Article author query
olson ka [PubMed]  [Google Scholar]
mueller t [PubMed]  [Google Scholar]
bolortsetseg s [PubMed]  [Google Scholar]
leimgruber p [PubMed]  [Google Scholar]
fagan wf [PubMed]  [Google Scholar]
fuller tk [PubMed]  [Google Scholar]

Abstract

In September 2007 unusual precipitation patterns created conditions in the eastern steppe of Mongolia (drought conditions in many places and wet conditions in one area) that led to the observation of a historically large Mongolian gazelle Procapra gutturosa herd (> 200,000). A model developed to predict gazelle occurrence based on satellite imagery of vegetation productivity correctly identified the region where the mega-herd was located. Additionally, few gazelles were observed in large portions of adjacent, suitable habitat that either had intense insect activity or were undergoing intensive oil development. Because Mongolian gazelles appear to undertake long-distance nomadic movements to cope with a highly variable environment and food availability, development activities that discourage use of limited suitable habitat may ultimately reduce gazelle fecundity or increase mortality. Landscape level conservation strategies that prevent habitat loss and allow access to all of the grasslands seem preferable to strategies that focus on enhancing a handful of protected areas.

(Received December 18 2007)

(Reviewed March 14 2008)

(Accepted May 20 2008)

KeywordsGazelle; grassland; Mongolia; NDVI; nomadism; oil development; Procapra gutturosa

Correspondence:

c1 Department of Natural Resources Conservation, 160 Holdsworth Way, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA 01003-9285, USA. E-mail kolson@wcs.org

p1 Also at: Wildlife Conservation Society, Mongolia Country Program, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.

p2 Also at: Conservation Ecology Center, National Zoological Park, Smithsonian Institution, Front Royal, USA.


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