Date of Award
Master of Science (MS)
Glenn Plumb, Melissa Wuellner, Matthew Bice
Bison;Conservation;Green Status Assessment;IUCN;Management;Wild
The American bison (Bison bison subspp.), once on the verge of extinction, now number in the hundreds of thousands. Despite an understanding of their numerical recovery, a comprehensive survey of bison herds and how their management varies between sectors has never been completed, and neither has a critical evaluation of the level of ecological recovery of the species. I surveyed bison managers from all major sectors, collecting extensive information about each bison situation. I identified significant proportional differences between management sectors among my survey questions using Freeman-Halton-Fisher exact tests of independence. I visualized and grouped individual herds based on their adherence to the 2017 RLA criteria using a multiple correspondence analysis and hierarchical clustering analysis. I then used this information to conduct three nested iterations of the novel IUCN Green Status Assessment (GSA) with inclusion of herds in each iteration based on progressively relaxed definitions of “wild” from the most recent RLA criteria. In the end, I identified that inclusion of more bison herds in the assessment may increase GSA scores due to numerical recovery, but may lead to lower levels of perceived ecological recovery, posing important questions as we look into the future of bison conservation over the next 100 years.
Rogers, Luke Rollie, "Variation in American Bison (Bison Bison) Ecological Functionality across Management Sectors: Implications for Conducting Conservation Assessments" (2022). Biology Theses, Dissertations, and Student Creative Activity. 6.