Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: Oklahoma
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Oklahoma Project

Evaluating patterns of occurrence for native and nonnative mammals

August 2021 - May 2024


Participating Agencies

  • US Geological Survey

The spatial distribution of species is of primary interest to ecologists and resource managers. Patterns of species occurrence are influenced by combinations of bottom-up, top-down, and parallel (e.g., competition) processes, but the relative importance of these processes may be influenced by trophic level, landscapes of fear, and habitat degradation or disturbance. Thus, effective management and conservation of wildlife populations requires information on processes driving patterns of co-occurrence among species. In the southern United States, invasive feral swine (Sus scofa; hereafter, wild pigs) have had significant impacts on natural resource management. Wild pigs alter vegetation, water quality, and soil characteristics through rooting behaviors and, consequently, have been referred to as ecosystem engineers that may influence habitat quality for native wildlife. Studies evaluating the direct and indirect impacts of wild pigs have focused largely on their influence on vegetation, ground nesting birds, and island endemics. Pervasive disturbance by wild pigs may influence native mammal diversity and patterns of occurrence. Our project objectives are to evaluate patterns of wild pig space use and factors influencing use and investigate the influence of wild pig space use on native mammal communities. This research is a collaboration between the USGS Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Oklahoma State University, and the US Fish and Wildlife Service. The results of this study will be used to inform natural resource management within the Wichita Mountain Wildlife Refuge.