Ryan Long, Ph.D.
- Ph.D., Biological Sciences, Idaho State University, May 2013, Minor in Biology Education
- M.S., Wildlife Resources, University of Idaho, May 2007
- B.S., Wildlife Biology, University of Alaska Fairbanks, May 2004
Ecology and conservation of large mammals
physiological ecology of endotherms
resource selection modeling
wildlife population ecology
Seidler, R.G., R.A. Long, J. Berger, S. Bergen, and J.P. Beckmann. 2015. Identifying impediments to long-distance migration to facilitate conservation. Conservation Biology 29:99-109.
Long, R.A., R.T. Bowyer, W.P. Porter, P. Mathewson, K.L. Monteith, and J.G. Kie. 2014. Behavior and nutritional condition buffer a large-bodied endotherm against direct and indirect effects of climate. Ecological Monographs 84:513-532.
Monteith, K.L., R.A. Long, V.C. Bleich, J.R. Heffelfinger, P.R. Krausman, and R.T. Bowyer. 2013. The effects of harvest, culture, and climate on trends in size of horn-like structures in trophy ungulates. Wildlife Monographs 183.
Lendrum, P.E., C.R. Anderson, Jr., R.A. Long, J.G. Kie, and R.T. Bowyer. 2012. Habitat selection by mule deer during migration: effects of landscape structure and natural-gas development. Ecosphere 3:art82.
Anderson, E.D., R.A. Long, M.P. Atwood, J.G. Kie, T.R. Thomas, P. Zager, and R.T. Bowyer. 2012. Winter resource selection by female mule deer Odocoileus hemionus: functional response to spatiotemporal changes in habitat. Wildlife Biology 18:153-163.
Aho, K.A., R.A. Long, J.G. Kie, and R.T. Bowyer. 2010. A new index for measuring perpendicularity of animal movements in relation to patch boundaries. Ecological Modelling 221:2003-2007.
Long, R.A., J.G. Kie, R.T. Bowyer, and M.A. Hurley. 2009. Resource selection and movements by female mule deer: effects of reproductive stage. Wildlife Biology 15:288-298.
Long, R.A., J.L. Rachlow, and J.G. Kie. 2009. Sex-specific responses of North American elk to habitat manipulation. Journal of Mammalogy 90:423-432.
Long, R.A., J.D. Muir, J.L. Rachlow, and J.G. Kie. 2009. A comparison of two modeling approaches for evaluating wildlife-habitat relationships. Journal of Wildlife Management 73:294-302.
Outstanding Graduate Researcher in Biology, Idaho State University, 2013
American Society of Mammalogists Fellowship, 2012
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Science to Achieve Results (STAR) Fellowship, 2010
Idaho State University Doctoral Teaching Fellowship, 2010
Research“Population Ecology of Mule Deer in Northeastern Oregon: Understanding the Fundamental Role of Nutrition”
- Location: Starkey Experimental Forest and Range, Oregon.
- Summary: Despite the unrivalled success of the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation, mule deer populations throughout the West have declined markedly in recent decades. Wildlife managers are now tasked with reversing that trend, often with vastly inadequate information on the causes of the declines and the potential efficacy of various management strategies. Our research is designed to help clarify the fundamental role of nutrition in influencing performance of mule deer populations in northeastern Oregon. Specifically, our objectives are to: 1) map the nutritional landscape available to mule deer in habitat types at that are representative of much of the range of mule deer in NE Oregon; 2) quantify how mule deer are using their respective nutritional landscapes, and determine if deer are nutritionally limited during summer/autumn; and 3) clarify the degree to which nutritional condition of deer at Starkey is influenced directly by overall habitat quality versus indirectly via competition and/or predation (i.e., competitors or predators causing deer to utilize sub-optimal habitats).
- Time frame: This project was initiated in the fall of 2015, and is being conducted by Jennifer Merems for her MS degree.
- Location: Gorongosa National Park, Sofala Province, Mozambique.
- Summary: Elephants (Loxodonta africana) are the world’s largest extant land mammal and an iconic species throughout sub-Saharan Africa. Nevertheless, elephants regularly come into conflict with humans, and management of elephant populations is often fraught with controversy. Gorongosa National Park (GNP), in central Mozambique, was once home to more than 2,000 elephants. Most of those elephants were killed to feed soldiers during the Mozambican Civil War (1977-1992) and to fund the purchase of arms and ammunition through the sale of ivory. As a long-lived mammal, many of the adult elephants currently residing in the national park are survivors of the war, which is reflected in the prevalence of both of tusklessness and aggressive behavior toward humans. Implementing effective, humane, non-lethal strategies for preventing crop damage by these elephants is a complicated task, and the objective of our research is to experimentally evaluate the effectiveness of a variety of approaches to reducing negative interactions between elephants and humans in and around the park.
- Time frame: This project was initiated in the fall of 2015, and is being conducted by Paola Branco for her MS degree.
- Location: Northern and Central Idaho.
- Summary: Pregnancy rates, which in ungulates are directly affected by nutritional condition in late summer, can strongly influence the finite rate of increase of a population (λ), and information on such vital rates can be used by managers to predict population trends and make decisions ranging from allowable harvest to access restrictions. Reliably quantifying variation in nutritional condition and/or associated vital rates, however, has previously required the capture and handling of numerous individuals from each population of interest, and as a result those data are expensive, time-consuming, and risky to collect. Modern vegetation indices such as NDVI and EVI provide a mechanism for mapping the nutritional landscape available to ungulates, but thus far few researchers have attempted to link those indices with on-the-ground measures of forage quality and abundance, as well as behavior, condition, and vital rates of large herbivores. The primary objectives of this project are to: 1) model the relationship between remotely sensed vegetation indices and empirical estimates of spatiotemporal variation in forage quality and abundance for elk; and 2) combine the resulting forage model with data on elk habitat selection and pregnancy rates to model spatiotemporal variation in pregnancy rates as a function of habitat quality.
- Time frame: This project was initiated in the fall of 2015, and is being conducted by Sierra Robatcek for her MS degree.
- Location: Gorongosa National Park, Sofala Province, Mozambique.
- Summary: This project examines how uniformly distributed “resource hotspots” produced by mound-building harvester termites affect space use of three congeneric antelope species (Tragelaphus spp.) that vary four-fold in body size. The overarching goal of our research is to evaluate relationships among uniformly distributed termite mounds and behavior, body size, nutritional condition, reproductive status, and diet composition of browsing antelope in Gorongosa. Our primary objectives are to: 1) evaluate how the uniform distribution of resources influences herbivore behavior (e.g., forage selection, movement rates, home-range sizes, etc.); 2) assess whether the effects of resource distribution on behavior can be predicted as a function of energetic requirements that scale allometrically with body size; and 3) quantify the degree to which individual variation in behavior can be explained as a function of nutritional condition and reproductive status. It is our hope that this research will provide a foundation for understanding the continuing recovery of large herbivores in Gorongosa following their extirpation during the Mozambican civil war.
- Time frame: This project was initiated in 2013 in collaboration with Dr. Rob Pringle at Princeton University, and is ongoing.
- Location: Idaho National Laboratory Site, Idaho, and Starkey Experimental Forest and Range, Oregon.
- Summary: The overall objective of this project was to better understand relationships among climate-mediated variation in the energy landscape and behavior and fitness of large herbivores. Behavior often serves as the primary mechanism used by animals to buffer themselves against negative effects of environmental variation on fitness, and in the face of a changing climate, it is critical to understand the capacity of large herbivores to cope behaviorally with rising global temperatures. We hypothesized that behavioral responses of elk to the energy landscapes in two contrasting ecosystems would be both context-dependent (i.e., would vary as a function of the contrasting environmental conditions experienced by elk in the forest vs. the desert), and state-dependent (i.e., would vary as a function of the energy balance of an individual). We also hypothesized that that because fitness is directly influenced by energy balance, differences among individual elk in strength of selection for low cost areas (i.e., areas that reduce energetic costs of thermoregulation and activity) and high supply areas (i.e., areas that provide the most abundant, highest quality forage) would influence three energetically mediated fitness components: 1) birth mass of young; 2) nutritional condition of adult females at the onset of winter; and 3) change in nutritional condition of females between spring and winter. This study was among the first to elucidate mechanistic underpinnings of relationships among climate, behavior, energetics, and fitness of an endothermic animal, and the results have important implications for understanding responses of endotherms to future climate change.
- Time frame: This study was initiated in 2010 and completed in 2013.
- Location: This project was analytical in nature and did not involve field work.
- Summary: Hunting remains the cornerstone of the North American model of wildlife conservation and management. Nevertheless, research has indicated the potential for hunting to adversely influence size of horn-like structures of some ungulates. The objective of this project was to evaluate trends in horn and antler size of trophy male ungulates (individuals exhibiting exceptionally large horns or antlers) recorded from 1900 to 2008 in Records of North American Big Game, which comprised >22,000 records among 25 trophy categories encompassing the geographic extent of species occupying North America. Our results indicated a small but significant decline in size of horn-like structures of most species, and were consistent with a harvest-based explanation, whereby intensive harvest of males has gradually shifted age structure towards younger, and thus smaller, males. Nevertheless, such small declines (1.87% and 0.68% for antlers and horns, respectively, between 1950 and 2008) in size of trophy horns and antlers likely are inconsequential relative to the benefits that accrue from recreational hunting opportunities and resultant overall benefits to conservation.
- Time frame: This study was initiated in 2011 in collaboration with Dr. Kevin Monteith at the University of Wyoming (and a number of other collaborators), and was completed in 2013.
Outreach“Spatial Distribution, Movement, and Home Range Analysis Workshop”
- Location: USFWS National Conservation Training Center, and Idaho State University GIS Center.
- Summary: I have taught half of this week-long workshop (co-taught with Dr. John Kie) twice at the USFWS National Conservation Training Center (2011 and 2012) and four times at the Idaho State University GIS Center (2012-2014). My portion of the course was focused on modeling resource selection by animals, and students learned how to go from raw data to final model using mixed-effects logistic regression, spatially-explicit resource utilization function models, and negative binomial regression.
- Time frame: 2011-2014.
- Location: University of Wyoming and University of Nevada Reno.
- Summary: I presented this 2-day workshop on resource selection analysis (background, theory, and application) to the Wyoming Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit at the University of Wyoming in 2013, and to the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Science at the University of Nevada Reno in 2014.
- Time frame: 2013-2014.