Date of Completion


Document Type

Honors College Thesis


Wildlife and Fisheries Biology

Type of Thesis

Honors College

First Advisor

James D. Murdoch


Gobi desert, landscape change, livestock, occupancy modeling, Siberian ibex, steppe


As the world becomes increasingly populated, humans continue to modify habitats to suit their needs. Mongolia is one of many Asian countries currently undergoing human-induced landscape change, namely in the form of increased grazing pressure on the land by domesticated animals. There is uncertainty as to how wildlife will be impacted by this change. The Siberian ibex (Capra sibirica) is an ungulate classified as IUCN Near Threatened in Mongolia and an important species for tourism. I developed an occupancy model for the species based on radio- telemetry locations (n = 920) collected in Ikh Nart Nature Reserve, then estimated the effect of habitat reductions as expected under increasing levels of grazing. I developed 13 candidate models that include combinations of habitat and human variables, and used model selection techniques to evaluate the best-supported model in the set. The model with the most support indicated that rocky outcrop, open plain, and their interaction best described ibex occupancy. Average occupancy was 5.7% across the northern Ikh Nart landscape, 7.4% within the borders of the reserve, and 17.4% within the reserve’s core protected area. Simulations showed that in the absence of open plain habitat, average occupancy declined to 1.9%, 2.1%, and 5.0% respectively in these areas. The results provide a description of how landscape factors shape the distribution of the species. Because livestock grazing is concentrated in open plain habitats, these results may be used to inform decision-making about ibex conservation in the region.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.