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International Journal of Ecology
Volume 2010, Article ID 579808, 10 pages
Research Article

Elk Distributions Relative to Spring Normalized Difference Vegetation Index Values

1College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences, New Mexico State University, P.O. Box 30003, MSC 3AE, Las Cruces, NM 88003, USA
2University Statistics Center, New Mexico State University, P.O. Box 30003, MSC 3CQ, Las Cruces, NM 88003, USA
3New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department, 1220 South St. Francis Dr., Santa Fe, NM 87505, USA

Received 3 September 2009; Accepted 9 April 2010

Academic Editor: Herman H. Shugart

Copyright © 2010 Samuel T. Smallidge et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Rocky Mountain elk (Cervus elaphus) that winter near San Antonio Mountain in northern New Mexico provide important recreational and economic benefits while creating management challenges related to temporospatial variation in their spring movements. Our objective was to examine spring distributions of elk in relation to vegetative emergence as it progresses across the landscape as measured by remote sensing. Spring distributions of elk were closely associated with greater photosynthetic activity of spring vegetation in 2 of 3 years as determined using NDVI values derived from AVHRR datasets. Observed elk locations were up to 271% greater than expected in the category representing the most photosynthetic activity. This association was not observed when analyses at a finer geographic scale were conducted. Managers facing challenges involving human-wildlife interactions and land-use issues should consider environmental conditions that may influence variation in elk association with greener portions of the landscape.