Stephanie Doerries is a 2018 recipient of the Climate Assessment for the Southwest (CLIMAS) Climate & Society Graduate Fellows Program.
Project Title: Estimating survival and abundance of the endangered Sonoran pronghorn
Abstract: Large herbivores are in decline around the globe. Understanding the impacts of climate change, human activity, and habitat fragmentation on these populations is essential to facilitate recovery of endangered species such as the Sonoran pronghorn. A subspecies of American antelope unique to the Sonoran desert, the Sonoran pronghorn persists at relatively low densities in southwest Arizona and northwest Sonora, Mexico. Because wildlife managers are faced with the problem of accurately estimating population parameters with limited resources in a logistically challenging landscape, I am working with the Arizona Game and Fish Department to improve estimates of survival and abundance for Sonoran pronghorn. For survival, I will develop mark-recapture models for four types of data: location data from telemetry and GPS collars, opportunistic observations, genetic identification of fecal samples, and photographs taken by motion-activated cameras at sites of highly-localized pronghorn activity. For abundance, I will develop a novel sighting probability model to account for imperfect detection of pronghorn during range-wide aerial surveys. With more accurate estimates of survival and abundance, I will analyze the relationship among these parameters and climatic variables and vegetation indices. Results will allow managers to more accurately assess the population viability of Sonoran pronghorn for different recovery efforts.