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

South Dakota Project

Big game migration mapping - developing methods for atypical migrants

September 2022 - September 2027


Participating Agencies

  • WLCI

Many ungulates migrate to access key resources and avoid harsh weather. Despite the importance of ungulate migration for many ecosystems, the traditional migration corridors used by populations around the world face unprecedented change from the expanding footprint of human development. To conserve ungulate migration in the face of rapid environmental change and anthropogenic disturbance, an important first step is mapping the migration corridors. Currently, methodology exists to map corridors of migratory taxa with high fidelity to their migration routes and seasonal ranges (i.e., “typical migration”). However, when these approaches are applied to atypical migrants (i.e., wide-ranging but less predictable movement patterns), the results are often less than desirable – identifying areas that are too large for realistic landscape-scale prioritization or failing to capture key areas used outside the data collection window. The goal of this work is to derive generalizable and scalable methods to prioritize areas critical for maintaining connectivity for atypical migrants and to advance our ecological understanding of such wide-ranging movements. The project is a collaboration between researchers and State and Federal wildlife managers from across the western USA.