Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

Dustin Ranglack

Second Advisor

Jayne Jonas-Bratten

Committee Members

Glenn E Plumb, Andrew Little, Melissa Wuellner


Conservation Ecology;Fencing;Plains Bison (Bison bison bison);Scaled ecology;Wildlife Management;Wood Bison (Bison bison athabascae)


Ecological processes are scaled in time and space, including those associated with wildlife. Understanding the ecological processes of wildlife species and their contributions to ecosystems is crucial for effective conservation. This study focuses on American bison (Bison bison) as a case-study species to explore the holistic scaling of wildlife ecology. A PRISMA-style literature review was conducted to gather and map the scaled ecology of bison. An AIC best-fit analysis was conducted to assess the scaling of total bison ecology considering 7 different models. The results rejected the null model and identified the best-fit model as a combination between fencing and subspecies with a cumulative weight of 68%. Unfenced wood and plains bison appear to have all reported ecology conserved in management, with plains bison limited in dispersal and range expansion. Fenced plains bison show the largest area of concern as multiple ecological processes appear to not be conserved in most herds. Fenced plains bison are also kept at the highest densities of all groups, potentially removing opportunities for ecological expression, or forcing bison to express these processes differently than unfenced herds, as the spatiotemporal association of ecology for fenced bison was low compared to unfenced herds (R2 = 0.13). Considering the entirety of bison ecology in conservation efforts and management solutions, especially for bison managed behind fences will likely contribute to efforts of measuring for ecological functionality and address the implications of animal husbandry practices mirrored in bison management. The study methodology can be applied to any species. Scaling the total ecology of species across spatiotemporal gradients provides a comprehensive understanding of their ecological processes and facilitates targeted conservation measures. By incorporating scaled ecology into conservation practices, managers can better conserve wildlife species and contribute to their long-term sustainability.

Available for download on Friday, March 01, 2024