Dispersal of Yearling Pronghorns in Western South Dakota


E-mail: christopher.jacques@sdsdate.edu


Abstract: We captured and radiocollared 57 pronghorn (Antilocapra americana) fawns in western South Dakota, USA, during May 2002–2003 and radiotracked them through 15 months of age, by which time all surviving individuals had established a permanent home range. We classified 56% (n = 19) of fawns as dispersers and 44% (n = 15) as residents. Eighty-four percent (n = 16) of dispersers departed natal home ranges in late October and occupied winter home ranges for 102–209 days before dispersing to permanent home ranges during April 2003 and 2004. Dispersal distances from natal ranges to permanent home ranges varied from 6.2–267.0 km. Winter home-range sizes for all individual pronghorns varied from 39.4–509.6 km. Permanent home-range size for all individuals varied from 15.5–166.1 km2. Mean 95% permanent home-range size differed (P = 0.06) between residents (x̄ = 97.3 ± 15.1 km2) and dispersers (x̄ = 48.6 ± 16.0 km2), but was similar (P = 0.97) among sexes. Mean dispersal distance from natal to permanent home ranges was similar (P = 0.35) for males (x̄ = 54.2 ± 21.0 km) and females (x̄ = 26.3 ± 19.9 km). We suggest that habitat quality (i.e., patchiness) and pronghorn density, in part, stimulated dispersal. We hypothesize that as habitat patch size decreases, home range sizes and distance traveled during predispersal and dispersal movements by pronghorns will increase.