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Grand Teton National Park Report

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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). Monitoring implies a repeated assessment of status. In other words, the single year is placed into a larger context (Thompson et al. 1998). Indeed, a conservation plan requires a long-term 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, and (3) analyze the impact of wolf (Canis lupus) colonization on the mammal (and plant) community. If data become tight enough, we could formulate a predictive model for mammal and habitat relationships. 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), environmental change (Lancia et al. 1996; Thompson et al. 1998), and changes in numbers of large predators (McLaren and Peterson 1994; Terborgh et al. 1999; 2001; Crooks and Soule 1999; Crete 1999; Oksanen and Oksanen 2000; Miller et al. 2001).