Visualizing the Complexities of Ungulate Migrations in Wyoming's Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem

Authors: James E Meacham*, University of Oregon, Alethea Y Steingisser, University of Oregon
Topics: Animal Geographies, Cartography, Geographic Information Science and Systems
Keywords: wildlife migration, atlas, ungulates, visualization, cartography, Yellowstone, Wyoming
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


In 2011 Hall Sawyer, a Wyoming wildlife biologist, GPS collared 40 mule deer near Rock Springs, Wyoming, assuming this herd’s seasonal migration was 20 to 30 miles from low lands to the surrounding hills. What he and his colleagues at the Wyoming Migration Initiative discovered was that these deer migrated north almost 150 miles from the Red Desert to the Hoback Basin. To everyone’s great surprise, this turned out to be the world’s longest mule deer migration at the time. University of Oregon cartographers teamed up with Hall and other Wyoming Migration Initiative biologists to map and visualize this remarkable story and others related to the analysis of the migration corridors, including potential threats, and conservation opportunities. This is one example of many ungulate migration stories that are covered in the recently published atlas: “Wild Migrations: Atlas of Wyoming’s Ungulates.” The foundation of “Wild Migrations” is an extensive collection of data driven thematic maps and graphics. As GPS-collar technology improves, wildlife ecologists are collecting immense amounts of location and time-stamped data, revealing unprecedented insight into ungulate migration. Through the synthesis of data and the design of maps and graphics, “Wild Migrations” visualizes the complexity of ungulate migration ecology with the goal of advancing understanding and conservation of Wyoming’s ungulate migrations and the landscapes they depend on. This presentation will cover the visualization process for several examples from the “Wild Migrations” and also reveal the latest information on a new record holder for longest mule deer migration.

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