Author

Paul Quigley

Date of Award

2012

Document Type

Capstone Project

Degree Name

M.S.

Keywords

Wolverines, endangered species of flora and fauna, data compilation and management, GIS

Department

Geography

First Advisor

Russell Fielding

Abstract

The Global list of endangered species of flora and fauna is growing, with the most highly specialized species often at ‘critically endangered’ status. Managing these populations effectively involves numerous and varied organizations, conflicting motivations, arbitrary anthropogenic boundaries and often most importantly, data compilation and management. We are seeing many more reintroductions of locally extirpated species back into habitats of historical prevalence – and as extreme a method of conservation as this is, there is still a need for more extreme methods. High profile and highly specialized endangered species are often managed in a ‘crisis’ mode, where complex behaviors and interactions are lost for the sake of simple preservation of the species (for instance the Giant Panda in China). Since many animal species depend on vegetation, which is geography-dependent, GIS has become an essential tool in the conservation process, allowing large quantitative and qualitative datasets to be analyzed / overlain and updated with ease. With the help of GIS, more theoretical feasibility studies can be done, and thus we get a much better assessment of areas with the necessary essential conditions.

Wolverines once roamed throughout the Rocky Mountains, and although at time of writing Colorado has a recorded population of one (Danzinger, 2011 and others) scientists say that it has the most abundant potential wolverine habitat in the lower 48 states (12-2010 Colorado News Article). A highly territorial, solitary and aggressive animal, the wolverine is one of the last of the large mammals in North America to still require extensive study before any significant conservation attempt can be undertaken. Difficulties arise mostly due to the incredible adaptations of this mammal to some of the most inhospitable and rapidly diminishing landscapes in existence – and our inability to follow their movements and monitor their behavior with any ease.

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