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

Montana Wildlife Project

Predator use of Prey

July 2019 - June 2024


Participating Agencies

  • Idaho Fish and Game

This project will fund a PhD student to use IDFG’s existing data to formulate and parameterize predator-prey models, with the goal to help manage the multiple predators (wolves, cougars, bears, and mountain lions) and multiple prey species (mule deer, elk, white-tailed deer) in a community context. Predator and prey population dynamics do not operate in isolation. For example, altering harvest of mule deer and elk are likely to affect predator populations that are dependent on them. Conversely, management of wolves is likely to have an effect on the wolves’ prey population dynamics. Most management strategies evaluate and manage populations independently. The goal of this project is to holistically model multiple predator populations and multiple prey populations incorporating how these populations affect each other. We will formulate mechanistic mathematical models that include species interactions and feedbacks, mainly using existing IDFG data on these populations, but also drawing from previous research in other areas. These models will allow us to explore various management strategies to optimize management across the entire predator-prey community.