Bison Ecology & Management education module - Page 6

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Project activity. Step 1: Develop a Proposal

Part A: Project Question & Research Proposal (40 points)

Bison are a conservation success story in Yellowstone National Park. Now, however, they are leaving park boundaries in certain winters. Why? What factors cause them to leave the park boundaries? What are the consequences of leaving the park? Who are the different stakeholders involved? The following questions will help us to better understand the science behind this controversial issue and may provide useful information to decision-makers.


  1. Population Dynamics
    1. How has bison population size changed over the past century?
    2. What factors have influenced changes in population size over the past century? (natural & human)
  2. Spatial Dynamics
    1. What changes in bison distribution have occurred during the past century?
    2. What factors have influenced changes in bison distribution during the past century? (natural and human)
  3. Habitat Dynamics
    1. What type of habitat do bison select as their preferred place to live?
    2. What type of habitat facilitates bison movement

Develop a 4-5 page, double-spaced, research proposal that includes the following sections:

  1. Introduction - State your research questions (above) - why are you doing what you are doing? Provide background information about the questions and why they are important.
  2. Methods - Describe your proposed methods – what specific data will you need and what will you do with it?
  3. References – provide references from journal articles, books, official web sites, etc.

Part B: Background information sharing (in-class activity)

  1. What are the life history traits of the bison? Age, life expectancy, expected calves per female adult in lifetime, food preferences, climate tolerances, predators, etc. Why is bison life expectancy less in Yellowstone National Park than in other areas?
  2. What is brucellosis? Explain disease, host, transmission vectors, and consequences of infection. How are cattle currently protected from brucellosis? How prevalent is the disease in managed herds? How prevalent is the disease in wild animals? How many known transmissions from wild to managed animals are documented?
  3. What is the mission of the National Park? What are the rules and regulations for OSV and other winter vehicle use within Yellowstone National Park?
  4. What are the rules for livestock production and grazing under the different land management organizations of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem? Public land in the GYE is managed by the National Park Service, the USDA Forest Service, the US Fish and Wildlife Service (National Wildlife Refuges) and the Bureau of Land Management. The remaining land in the GYE is privately owned.
  5. How is cattle grazing subsidized in the western US?


29 Nov 2006 Webmaster