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Grand Teton National Park Report

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In 1994 and 1995, a high abundant winter snowfall at higher elevations appeared to result in long distance movement patterns by yellow-bellied marmot (Marmota flaviventris) over snow to lower, snowfree elevations where food was more available. As the snow melted and food became abundant, the marmots return to higher altitudes. In 1996, we continued to investigate the potential for migrational movements, by studying two study sites at different elevations in the North Fork of Cascade Canyon. Four marmots at each site were implanted with intraperitoneal tracking transmitters. Of eight marmots that were equipped with intraperitoneal transmitters, six demonstrated significant movements of greater than 0.5 km, one did not, and one most likely died as a result of predation before any movement could be observed. Of the six that demonstrated significant movements within the canyon, only one moved distances greater than 1 km. Marmots, after emerging from hibernation, migrated down canyon to snowfree areas as they become available. With progressive snow melt, most marmots move upward to higher elevations, but not to the extent originally expected. Instead, they moved to the first available habitat where food was obtainable, and other (dominant) marmots accepted their presence. This movement is exhibited in both males and females, yearlings and adults, and melanistic and normal colored marmots.