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Assessment of Elk Habitat Use, Population Dynamics, and Genetic Variability at Fort Riley Military Reservation, Kansas

Jonathan Conard, Ph.D. Student
Dr. Philip Gipson
Dr. Louis Bender

Project Supervisor
Dr. Craig Paukert

Fort Riley Military Reservation
Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Fort Riley Conservation Division, U.S. Army Construction Engineering Research Laboratory, Safari Club Internation
Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks,
New Mexico Cooperative Fish
and Wildlife Research Unit, Fort Riley Conservation Division

Assess elk resource selection in tallgrass prairie, estimate survival rates and mortality causes, and compare genetic variability to other reintroduced elk herds.
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Progress and Results

Elk resource selection patterns are being modeled in relation to variables including burn frequency, burn timing, land cover, and military training. Annual estimates of cow elk survival were generally high (0.74 – 1.0), and are comparable to rates reported in other harvested elk populations. Genetic variability at six microsatellite loci was assessed for elk in the Fort Riley population. Results indicated that allelic richness, expected heterozygosity, and observed heterozygosity are similar to levels of genetic variability found in other reintroduced and source elk populations.


Conard, J., Statham, M.J., Gipson, P.S., Wisely, S.M. 2010. The influence of translocation strategy and management practices on the genetic health of a re-established elk (Cervus elaphus) population. Restoration Ecology 18 (S1): 85-93.

Conard, J.M., M. J. Statham, S. M. Wisely, and P. S. Gipson. 2007. Genetic structure of a reintroduced elk population. Midwest Fish and Wildlife Conference, Madison, WI.

Conard, J.M., P.S. Gipson, and M.S. Peek. 2007. Historical and current distribution of elk in Kansas. Kansas Chapter of The Wildlife Society.

Conard, J.M. and P.S. Gipson. 2006. Seasonal variation and timing of elk use of private lands adjacent to Fort Riley Military Reservation, Kansas. 138th Annual Meeting of the Kansas Academy of Science.

Conard, J.M. and P.S. Gipson. 2006. Patterns of private land use by elk around Fort Riley Military Reservation. Kansas Chapter of The Wildlife Society Spring Meeting.

Conard, J.M., P.S. Gipson, and M.S. Peek. 2006. Status of elk in Kansas. 20th North American Prairie Conference.

Conard, J.M., P.S. Gipson, M.S. Peek. 2006. Historical and current status of elk in Kansas. Proceedings of the North American Prairie Conference. Kearney, Nebraska : University of Nebraska at Kearney, 2006. Pages 307-312.

Conard, J.M. and P.S. Gipson. 2005. Elk habitat selection in tallgrass prairie. American Society of Mammalogists Meeting.

Conard, J.M. and P.S. Gipson. 2005. Elk habitat use in tallgrass prairie. The Wildlife Society Meeting.

Conard, J.M. 2005. The influence of patch configuration and landscape features on diurnal elk habitat use at Fort Riley, KS. Geospatial Research Showcase. Kansas State University Geographic Information Systems / Spatial Analysis Laboratory.

Conard, J.M., P.S. Gipson, and L.C. Bender. 2004. “Elk in tallgrass prairie: home range size, habitat selection, and movement patterns.” Midwest Fish and Wildlife Conference.