Graduate student Katie Piecora prepares GPS collars to be fitted on pronghorn. The data from the collars will help Piecora and her team understand pronghorn movement, resource selection, and survival in western Nebraska. Photo by the AWESM Lab
Iris McFarlin, AWESM Lab Communications
Lincoln, Neb. – Katie Piecora, a master’s student in the School of Natural Resources and a member of the Applied Wildlife Ecology & Spatial Movement (AWESM) Lab, was awarded a travel scholarship from the Central Mountains and Plains Section of The Wildlife Society. The scholarship will aid Piecora in attending the 29th Biennial Western Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA) Pronghorn Workshop. The workshop will take place in Deadwood, SD and will provide researchers and practitioners an opportunity to share new research, management strategies, and emerging issues regarding pronghorn in the US.
Piecora, a second-year master’s student, has spent the past year and a half researching the spatial ecology, resource use, and survival of pronghorn in western Nebraska. In February 2021, the research team worked with a helicopter crew to capture and collar 80 adult pronghorn for tracking. In February of 2022, 30 more collars were deployed. The GPS collars send Piecora and her team precise location data of the animal every 2.5 hours, allowing the team to record highly detailed movement patterns for each individual collared pronghorn. By tracking the pronghorn, researchers can monitor annual and seasonal trends in survival and see how resource availability influences how the animals are moving on the landscape.
Results from this research study can be used by Nebraska Game and Parks Commission (NGPC) and other local conservation organizations to formulate management strategies that aim to conserve pronghorn populations in the state while also balancing the needs of ranchers and landowners in the area.
Katie Piecora is co-advised by Dr. Andrew Little of the AWESM Lab at UNL and Dr. Dustin Ranglack of the Ranglack Lab at UNK. To learn more about the AWESM Lab’s research, visit awesmlab.unl.edu or follow the lab on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter @awesmlab.