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Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program

Wildlife & Fisheries Conservation

Year Degree Awarded

2016

Month Degree Awarded

September

First Advisor

Todd K. Fuller

Subject Categories

Behavior and Ethology | Ecology and Evolutionary Biology | Population Biology | Zoology

Abstract

The Mongolian Gobi is one of the most spectacular and important regions in Central Asia, comprising the largest area of intact grassland in the world. In recent years, a growing human population, expanding exploitation of natural resources, and the development of infrastructure in the region place increasing pressure on these species and their habitats. This dissertation has focused on three species of ungulates such as Mongolian saiga (Saiga tatarica mongolica) in western Mongolia, and Asiatic wild ass (Equus hemionus), and goitered gazelle (Gazella subgutturosa) in Southern Gobi. The study on endangered saiga antelope in western Mongolia found that the calving location selection of saiga influenced by multiple factors and individual saiga females preferred calving locations that were away from settlements and closer to water sources and avoided steeper slopes. While the variation in saiga group size predominantly determined by Normalized Difference Vegetation Index, predation rate and season. These results demonstrate that the choice of calving locations and grouping patterns of saiga antelope is driven by both internal and external factors. Understanding which factors influence calving location selection and variation in group size for saiga provides insights to the management of this endangered antelope. The ground-based ungulate survey in the Southern Gobi of Mongolia confirm that Mongolia’s Gobi desert still supports the largest population of khulan and goitered gazelle in the world. Spatial analyses results of the ground survey suggest disturbance associated with human activities have a negative influence on the amount and distribution of suitable habitats for khulan and goitered gazelles in Southern Gobi. Spatially explicit models also indicate approximately half the study area is unsuitable habitat for khulan and goitered gazelles. The data presented here contain valuable information on factors influencing distribution and calving site selection of the plains ungulates and these results can be used to plan mitigation measures and reduce the impacts of developments. The ways in which we approach this important question can also serve as a model for other systems.

Comments

I have made all changes suggested by a reviewer.

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