BS in Environmental Management and Protection
Natural Resources Management and Environmental Sciences Department
John D. Perrine
Montana de Oro (MDO) is one of the largest state parks in California. Little is known however about its wildlife or their habits. Large predators such as mountain lion (Puma concolor) and black bear (Ursus americanus), and non–native species such as red fox (Vulpes vulpes) and feral pig (Sus scropha) are of management concern because of their potentially dramatic ecological roles. Cameras were deployed at 5 sites along the Coon Creek hiking trail in spring (May 3–June 7), summer (July 15–August 19), and fall (October 10–November 23) sessions with the goal of collecting a minimum of 28 survey nights of data. From this data species richness, latency to first detection, and activity patterns were examined. Overall, 19 different species of terrestrial vertebrates were detected: 8 species of birds, 11 species of mammals, and 7 species of mammalian carnivores (including the Virginia opossum (Didelphis virginiana), an introduced marsupial). Mountain lion was the only species of management concern detected, and it was only detected once during the summer session. ANVOA testing found no significant difference in species richness between seasons (α=0.05, P>0.05). Latency to first detection was too variable for statistical analysis, and there was no apparent trend for seasonal effect within any species. Daily activity patterns were analyzed using a chi–squared goodness of fit test (α=0.05) for striped skunk (Mephitis mephitis) (Pspring=0.41, n=8), mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) (Pfall=0.03, n=10), and gray fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus) (Pspring=0.032, n=16; Psummer<0.001, n=89; Pfall<0.001, n=59). All tests yielding significant P–values also indicated a preference for crepuscular activity. Contingency table analysis indicated there was an interaction between time of day and season for gray fox (P<0.001), with the strongest effect in dawn and spring, and night and fall. This interaction is unexplained. Lack of detection of black bear, red fox, and feral pig suggest that they are not present within the Coon Creek watershed of MDO. Additional studies on a larger spatial scale are required to determine their status throughout the park. Mountain lion likewise require further study on a larger scale to determine how they are using MDO habitat.