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Grand Teton National Park Report

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Studies that investigate community relationships among mammals typically require large temporal and areal scales (Krebs et al. 1995; Estes 1996; Terborgh et al. 1999). Despite the difficulties presented by larger scales, such studies are valuable to decision-makers (Sinclair 1991; Smith et al. 1999). Understanding abundance, distribution, habitat choice, and ecological interactions of mammalian species can promote management decisions that benefit overall ecosystem health. Monitoring programs that build an ecological model of the landscape, and assess the trends in relation to biotic and abiotic changes, are essential to adaptive management, yet are seldom a standard part of management activities (Sinclair 1991; Noss and Cooperrider 1994; Lancia et al. 1996; Noss et al. 1996). Indeed, a conservation plan requires a long­term obligation to standardized ecological monitoring so that actions can be adjusted according to new information (Noss et al. 1996). Over the long term, this standardized monitoring plan will provide information on small and medium-sized mammals that will (1) assess species use of habitat, (2) monitor changes in species composition as a result of environmental change, (3) produce predictive models of small and medium­sized mammal distribution based on vegetation type, and (4) analyze the impact of wolf (Canis lupus) colonization on the mammal (and plant) community. Such standardized monitoring techniques for mammal communities have not been done in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. The abundance and diversity of mammals can be greatly affected by a number of factors. These include plant productivity (Hunter and Price 1994; Krebs et al. 1995; Polis and Strong 1996), climate (Pinter 1996; Hoogland 1995; Post et al. 1999), natural disturbance (Pickett and White 1985), disease (Dobson and May 1986), and expected or unexpected environmental change (Lancia et al. 1996; Thompson et al. 1998).