• Ecology of mountain sheep: effects of mining and precipitation

      Oehler, Michael William (1999-12)
      We examined effects of mining on mountain sheep (Ovis canadensis nelsoni) in California. Size of home range, forage quality, and diet did not differ between populations in mined and nonmined areas. During summer, we observed the greatest disparity in time spent feeding and diet quality. Because of their dependence on a spring adjacent to the mine, sheep may have spent more time vigilant, and less time feeding. Reducing mining during summer may benefit sheep. We also compared ecology of two female mountain sheep populations from different areas (xeric vs. mesic) in the Mojave Desert. The more xeric Panamint Range was typified by more bare ground, less shrubs, less grass, and larger home ranges than at Old Dad Peak. Females from Old Dad foraged on grasses, whereas those from the Panamints consumed shrubs. We concluded that sheep from the Panamints required larger home ranges because of lower-quantity and quality of forage.